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CGI Mobilizes Emergency Response to Horn of Africa

By Susan Carey Dempsey on September 22, 2011No Comment

The specter of growing famine on the Horn of Africa impelled a group of humanitarian organizations and corporations to hold a joint press conference at CGI this morning to announce a multi-pronged response in the weeks and months ahead.

ONE, the anti-poverty advocacy organization, will mount an advertising campaign in the coming year to urge governments to live up to their existing commitments to agricultural development. According to CEO Michael Elliott, G8 and G20 leaders have only delivered on one fifth of the $22 billion they pledged at the 2009 L’Aquila Summit:

I come here with a sense of bitterness and anger today, because men, women and children are dying needlessly. Droughts are acts of nature. Famines are manmade. We know what we have to do. For six organizations to have to be here to address famine on the Horn of Africa is a scandalous indictment of where we are in the world.

DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 24JAN08 - Bono, Musician, D...

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ONE has mobilized its members, including such well-known artists and musicians as Bono and Youssou N’Dour, to call attention to the need to meet these commitments.

Today’s announcements included a commitment from Procter & Gamble, specifically for the Horn of Africa, to donate product that would provide over 300 million liters of clean water to 2 million people affected by the famine  – preventing, according to CEO Robert McDonald, 10 million days of illness.

Two humanitarian organizations working on the ground in Somalia, Save the Children and the International Medical Corps, spoke of new commitments to relieve the Somali crisis. IMC’s CEO Nancy Aossey said the organization was committing to provide immediate relief to 200,000 people in the famine-stricken region, where 400,000 children are at risk and 750,000 could die. Longer term, she emphasized, mobilization of local community partners will be a key component of meeting the needs:

There’s a saying in Africa, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Save the Children’s CEO, Carolyn Miles, described extremely difficult conditions in Somalia, where warring clans have increased the danger to populations trying to reach food supplies. Nevertheless, she said, food is getting through to Mogadishu and other areas, including the important therapeutic food Plumpy Nut, which has saved thousands of children’s lives.

Similar interventions with highly nutritious and fortified foods were described by leaders of GAIN, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, and DSM Nutrition. Stephen Tanda, Chairman of DSM, said that through a partnership with GAIN, 20 million micronutrient sachets would be distributed to famine victims through the World Food Program. GAIN’s executive director, Marc van Ameringen, underscored the importance of reaching vulnerable women and children to supplement their nutrition during a crucial 1,000 day window from pregnancy through age two. He said rather than waiting for the UN systems and international community to act, this group was putting together the partnerships to step up and respond. He said his organization was seeking to raise investment funds to underwrite further fortified nutrition programs:

We need longer term solutions. We have to stop reacting to crises.

Caroline Miles, while emphasizing the positive developments that have taken place among local humanitarian organizations and the ability to monitor emerging famine conditions, stressed the need for a greater capacity to respond rapidly:

We need to turn early warning into early action.

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