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Drought crisis: urgent priorities

Yesterday, I spoke at a conference in Rome, organised at the request of the French government to look at possible measures to address the crisis in the Horn of Africa. At it, I identified three urgent priorities. We need to focus on them, if we are to deal with this terrible humanitarian crisis where millions of lives are at risk.

Stop malnutrition

First, there needs to be a major focus on saving the lives of severely malnourished children. This can be done through the scaling up of therapeutic feeding and basic health services.

Increase food

Second, there needs to be a rapid increase in the supply of food. Where there is some amount of food available in local markets, cash or food vouchers need to be given to people to ensure they can purchase that food. 

Increase farming essentials

Third, there needs to be a rapid increase in getting seeds and tools and livestock to farmers and pastoralists. This needs to be done in advance of the expected rainy season that is in late September or early October.

Representing Ireland

I was the only representative from Ireland to address the international meeting, which was also attended by international ministers, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation and other international organisations.