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

Fact Sheet
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
July 27, 2011

More than 11.5 million people—primarily in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia—are in need of emergency assistance in the Horn of Africa. The United States is concerned about the high malnutrition rates in the region—particularly in southern and central Somalia and the attendant Somali refugee population. A large-scale multi-donor intervention is underway to prevent the further decline of an already dire situation, but there will be no quick fix. The U.S. is one of the largest donors of humanitarian assistance to the region, providing approximately $459 million this fiscal year to help those in need. This funding supports humanitarian assistance to refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and other drought affected populations, and builds near and longer term food security. Because emergency assistance will not solve the underlying long-term problems in the region, the U.S. Government is also working on comprehensive 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 combined daily arrival rates of 3,200 new refugees in Ethiopia and Kenya could rise dramatically as the situation in Somalia grows increasingly desperate. The U.S. Government is providing approximately $69 million for refugee assistance in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Djibouti. Much of this assistance was previously planned for the region to meet continuing critical humanitarian needs. But with the deepening of this crisis, the U.S. Government responded by making available $5 million in new funding for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ recent Emergency Appeal for Somali refugees. Our diplomacy and our dollars leverage other donor support 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.

The U.S. Government is also providing approximately $44 million for 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 is funding 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: Over a month ago, the United States contributed approximately 19,000 metric tons of food aid to the U.N. World Food Program (WFP) for Somalia. It is being drawn down now from prepositioned stocks in the region. This week, the United States announced it is providing an additional $21 million contribution to WFP in Somalia to benefit those in need of food assistance. Another $5 million to WFP was also announced for refugees in Kenya, bringing the total this year that the U.S. has provided to $69.6 million in food assistance for the more than 211,000 refugees in Ethiopia and 507,000 refugees in Kenya. Since September 2010, the U.S. Government has provided $20 million to WFP in Kenya for the purchase of up to 37,000 metric tons of regionally-grown corn.

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.



The U.N. Children's Fund (UNICEF) 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.


International NGOs and Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

Support for Refugee Protection and Assistance



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


International NGOs and UNHCR

Refugee Protection and Assistance




Title II Emergency Food Assistance



Refugee Protection and Assistance




PRN: 2011/1248