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

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
November 1, 2011

On October 24, Secretary Clinton announced an additional $100 million, primarily in food assistance, for drought-affected populations in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. With this announcement, the United States Government, the largest humanitarian donor to the region, is providing over $750 million to meet ongoing and urgent humanitarian needs, including approximately $175 million in humanitarian assistance for Somalia.

More than13.3 million people are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa, primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. 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 and political instability within Somalia, and the escalating refugee crisis across the region. A large-scale international response is underway to prevent the further deterioration of an already dire situation, but there will be no quick fix.

The United States is the largest donor of humanitarian assistance to the region, now providing over $750 million in life-saving assistance to those in need. This assistance has reached nearly 4.6 million people, many of whom would otherwise have died from starvation or related diseases. Al-Shabaab’s continued efforts to block nongovernmental organization access to the most vulnerable areas of Somalia and its limitations on the delivery of life sustaining humanitarian assistance further exacerbates the humanitarian crisis. Because emergency assistance will not solve the underlying problems in the region, the United States also is developing long-term food security in Kenya and Ethiopia through the President’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, to help prevent such crises from recurring.

Humanitarian Assistance to Refugees, Internally Displaced Persons, and Drought Affected Populations: Reports from inside Somalia indicate the situation is growing increasingly desperate. The over $750 million the United States is providing includes protection and assistance for refugees in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti, including 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 those countries struggle with the worst drought in 60 years.

U.S. assistance also supports health, nutrition, agriculture and food security, economic recovery and market systems, logistics and relief commodities, humanitarian coordination and information management, and water, sanitation, and hygiene interventions in Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya. The United States is addressing the immediate life-saving needs of affected populations while also building communities’ resilience to future shocks.

Food Security: Part of our humanitarian assistance provides food assistance to drought-affected individuals and allows our food aid partners, including the U.N. 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 approximately $536 million in humanitarian food aid to Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

The U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) 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. Early warning of the crisis in the Horn of Africa by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and Famine Early Warning Systems Network allowed the United States to alert other donors and preposition food stock and quickly 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 through sustainable development of entire agricultural value chains, is critical at this time. Increasing the resilience 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.

For example, Ethiopia’s Feed the Future program emphasizes improving early warning systems, disaster risk management, and development of alternative income sources in pastoralist and agriculture areas through programs including 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 increases the quality and availability of trade information, improving animal health, and building capacity for private sector trade groups.

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

Implementing Partner


Amount (In Millions)


Implementing Partners

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


U.N. World Food Program (WFP) and other International Partners

International Development Assistance, Cash-Based Programs, and Emergency Food Assistance for Drought-Affected Areas.


Total 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 other Implementing Partners

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 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

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 Assistance to Ethiopia





Title II Emergency Food Assistance



Refugee Protection and Assistance


Total Assistance to Djibouti





Support to Regional Activities


Total Regional Assistance





PRN: 2011/1586