African Churches and Humanitarian Agencies Call for External Debt Suspension to Help Countries Cope with Drought Crisis
Organizations including the Pan African Conference of Churches, Christian Aid, Catholic Overseas Development Agency, Catholic Relief Services and Doctors Without Borders made the appeal as the number of drought-affected people in the region reached at least 36.1 million. In July, an estimate of 19.4 million was recorded in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia.
“To reinforce the efforts of governments in the Horn of Africa to save lives now and give a lifeline to millions on the front lines of the hunger crisis, the G7, G20, IMF, World Bank world and all private creditors should suspend all debt repayments due in 2022 and 2023, and the same invested to respond to the worsening humanitarian crisis,” the organizations said in a statement that also addressed concerns related to the climate change and adaptation.
Analysts say the region, like other parts of Africa, is grappling with unprecedented crises, compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict and war in Ukraine.
Crops and harvests have failed for five consecutive seasons, and livestock – including camels, cattle, goats and sheep – have died due to drought, the groups say. At first there was some water in the rivers and dams for the farmers and their animals, but the springs have since dried up with excessive heat extinguishing the pastures.
As a result, around 8.9 million head of cattle died in the three countries. Communities have been forced to move to new territories, triggering climate-related conflicts.
“Not that we did‘I don’t see that coming, unfortunately. Scientists have repeatedly warned of insufficient rainfall and prolonged drought, mostly attributed to climate change,” the organizations said. “We are saddened to see the results of this inaction despite many warnings, and yet world leaders continue to drag their feet when it comes to honoring climate finance pledges.
The organizations urged prioritizing the distribution of funds to end hunger-related deaths and ensure the protection of vulnerable groups, including women, girls, the elderly and the sick.
“Interventions such as school meals must be scaled up to ensure that all children remain in school and that girls are protected from all harmful practices, including child, early and forced marriage, sexual and gender-based violence, abuse and exploitation,” the organizations said.
Among other calls, the organizations are urging governments to mobilize funds, accelerate and scale up their response to the humanitarian crisis. They also want governments to implement the African Union Climate Change Response Strategy and Action Plan 2022-2032.
At the COP27 meeting in Sharm-el-Sheikh, Egypt in November, the organizations want the presidency to put adaptation at the top of the meeting’s agenda.
“It is outrageous that in a world where there is enough to feed everyone, people are still starving and that hundreds of millions of people are on the brink of starvation despite promises never to give food a chance again. famine in this century,” the organizations said.