RIYADH: The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is working with Saudi Arabia on sustainable solutions to hunger and the effects of climate change in the Horn of Africa.
“In this region, we had periodic droughts every seven years. Now it’s almost every year,” Erika Joergensen, WFP regional director for East and Central Africa, told Arab News during her visit to Riyadh.
“People have recovered from the 2016-17 drought, but now you have almost 14 million people who are affected by drought,” she said.
“The main affected countries that have asked us for assistance are Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda,” she added.
“The good news is that these countries are really improving. You don’t have the famine that you had earlier, but people are still suffering and need help.”
Some of the countries suffering from climate change have already taken individual initiatives to address the issue, Joergensen said.
“Ethiopia has set aside almost $300 million as humanitarian relief for people who are suffering from drought, and to respond to the effects of climate change,” she said, adding that Kenya has done the same.
What we’re here for in Saudi Arabia … is to talk about what can we do to help directly people who need assistance now — children, mothers and pregnant women.
Erika Joergensen, WFP regional director
“What we’re here for in Saudi Arabia … is to talk about what can we do to help directly people who need assistance now — children, mothers and pregnant women,” she said.
During a meeting with officials from the King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRelief), they discussed the possibility of immediate short-term assistance to address hunger and poverty, and to provide emergency assistance especially for children and women, she added.
“We also discussed partnering to create long-term solutions, more resilience and smarter farming to help people adapt to drought in the conditions they’re living in, and making their livelihood out of that,” said Joergensen.
Saudi Arabia has a lot of technical expertise, so it is a partner to the WFP rather than just a donor, she added.
“The Kingdom is a very generous donor to my agency, but it’s also about having a fruitful partnership,” she said.
Saudi Arabia attaches great importance to peace and stability in the Horn of Africa, and is aware that this is achieved by providing food security for its residents, she added.
The Kingdom and the WFP have “agreed on the need to enhance our partnership,” said Joergensen.