This paper considers the political contexts in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, how these affected the response to the 2011 Horn of Africa emergency, and the implications for future response.
The region shares a common climatic zone – a semi-arid rangeland that stretches across northern Kenya, into Somalia and southern Ethiopia. There are important implications of the region's perennial climatic challenges for approaches to improving food security.
Although there is a clearly identifiable region of vulnerability and food insecurity stretching across the region, the major variation in the three countries' political environments significantly undermines the prospects for comprehensively addressing the problem with a coherent regional strategy. It is clear that the political context is a major determining factor in the efficacy of intervention.
In the longer term, cyclical vulnerability – as is the case in this region – cannot be adequately addressed and remedied via repeated humanitarian interventions. Instead, a long-term development strategy is needed.
Given the long period under which such a developmental approach would be taken, effective mechanisms need to be in place for responding to the expected, short-term variations in conditions. While it is certain that the region will experience further drought, and periods of acute vulnerability, such short-term responses should comprise part of a longer-term strategy.