U.S. Response to Humanitarian Crisis in the Horn of Africa

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 8, 2011

More than 12.7 million people—primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia—are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa. The United States is deeply concerned by the humanitarian emergency in the Horn of Africa, the famine that is occurring in parts of Somalia, the ongoing conflict within Somalia, and the escalating refugee crisis across the region. A large-scale international response is underway to prevent the further decline of an already dire situation, but there will be no quick fix. The U.S. is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the region, now providing over $600 million in life-saving humanitarian assistance to those in need. This funding supports humanitarian assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other drought affected populations. Because emergency assistance will not solve the underlying problems in the region, the U.S. Government is also working on long-term responses, such as through the President’s Feed the Future initiative.

Humanitarian Assistance to Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons, and other Drought Affected Populations: Reports from inside Somalia indicate the situation is growing increasingly desperate. The over $600 million the U.S. Government is providing includes protection and assistance for refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti as well as funding for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) recent Emergency Appeal for Somali refugees as well as other humanitarian partners working inside and outside Somalia. Our diplomacy and our dollars leverage support from other donors for international protection and assistance efforts. These efforts are critical to saving lives and maintaining access to safe asylum in Somalia’s neighboring countries, even as they themselves struggle with a drought that has been described as the worst in 60 years.

U.S. assistance also supports health, nutrition, agriculture and food security, economic recovery and market systems, humanitarian coordination and information management, and water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya. The U.S. Government funds nutrition programs that treat malnutrition and support community-based education. The U.S. is working to address the immediate lifesaving needs of affected populations while also building communities’ resiliency to future shocks.

Food Security: Part of our funding will benefit those in need of food assistance in Ethiopia and Kenya. Our assistance will allow World Food Program (WFP) to expand geographic coverage and scale up feeding programs in drought-affected areas in Ethiopia and Kenya. In total, the United States is providing over $400 million in humanitarian food aid to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia this fiscal year.

The U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), which the United States supports, have maintained a strong presence in the region for decades, enabling the humanitarian community to identify conditions based on an extensive analysis of historical and current rainfall, cropping patterns, livestock health, market prices and malnutrition rates. FEWS NET’s early warning of the crisis in the Horn of Africa has allowed the United States to alert other donors and to make sizeable, early food aid contributions and scale up emergency programs to meet the increasing needs in the region.

Feed the Future: President Obama’s Feed the Future initiative—which helps address the root causes of hunger and undernutrition—is critical at this time. Increasing the resiliency and further developing the capacity of pastoralists to engage in a commercially viable livestock trade is crucial to breaking the disaster cycle across the Horn. By working with other donors and governments in the region, Feed the Future will increase overall agricultural production as well as increase the resiliency of pastoralists who suffer most acutely from the effects of the drought.

For example, Ethiopia’s Feed the Future program emphasizes improving early warning systems, disaster risk management, and livelihoods in pastoralist and agriculture areas. Feed the Future will invest in Ethiopia’s Pastoralist Livelihoods Initiative. This program has increased the value and sales of livestock by improving livestock health services, institutionalizing early warning and response, and improving land and water management. At the regional level, East Africa’s Livestock Trade program focuses on the trade of live animals, increasing the quality and availability of trade information, improving animal health, and building capacity for private sector trade groups.

Total Current U.S. Government Funding for Humanitarian Assistance to Horn of Africa

Implementing Partner


Amount (In Millions)


Implementing Partners that Specialize in Emergency Operations

Agriculture, Food Security, Economic Recovery, Health, Coordination and Information, Nutrition, Protection, and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene,


U.N. World Food Program (WFP)

International Development Assistance, Emergency Food Assistance for Drought-Affected Areas.


Total U.S. Government Assistance to Somalia





The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) ), U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Implementing Partners that Specialize in Emergency Operations

Agriculture, Food Security, Economic Recovery and Market Systems, Humanitarian Studies, and Nutrition, and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.



Emergency Food Assistance for Drought-Affected Areas, Emergency Food Assistance for Refugees.


Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), international NGOs, and other international organizations.

Support for Refugee Protection and Assistance


Total U.S. Government Assistance to Kenya





U.N. Department of Safety and Security, U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, UNICEF, WFP, and international and local NGOs that specialize in emergency operations.

Agriculture and Food Security, Humanitarian Coordination and Information Management, Logistics and Relief Commodities, Nutrition, Protection, and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene.



Food Assistance for Refugees, Relief Food Assistance for Drought-Affected Areas


Catholic Relief Services (CRS)/Joint Emergency Operations

Relief Food Assistance


UNHCR, International NGOs, and other international organizations

Refugee Protection and Assistance


Total U.S. Government Assistance to Ethiopia






Title II Emergency Food Assistance



Refugee Protection and Assistance


Total U.S. Government Assistance to Djibouti






Support to Regional Activities


Total Regional U.S. Government Assistance





PRN: 2011/1439