UN / HORN OF AFRICA DROUGHT

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14-Feb-2022 00:01:44
Rein Paulsen, Director of Emergencies and Resilience at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the drought situation in the Horn of Africa is “now sitting on the brink of catastrophe,” and stressed that there was a “narrow window” for urgent action to prevent a “worst-case scenario.” UNIFEED

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STORY: UN / HORN OF AFRICA DROUGHT
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SOURCE: UNIFEED
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LANGUAGE: ENGLISH / NATS

DATELINE: 14 FEBRUARY 2022, NEW YORK CITY

SHOTLIST:

FILE – NEW YORK CITY

1. Wide shot, UN headquarters exterior

14 FEBRUARY 2022, NEW YORK CITY

2. Wide shot, press room
3. SOUNDBITE (English) Rein Paulsen, Director of Emergencies and Resilience, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
“We've been sounding, as FAO together with partners, the alarms since the middle of last year about how the situation was unfolding. And we are most definitely now sitting on the brink of catastrophe. We have a window to the middle of this year, to June, which is a very time sensitive, narrow window for urgent actions to scale up to prevent a worst case scenario. Agriculture needs a lot more attention. It's central to the survival of drought affected communities.”
4. Wide shot, press room
5. SOUNDBITE (English) Rein Paulsen, Director of Emergencies and Resilience, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
“Drought response, preventing famine, requires the right set of actions implemented at the right time in a drought cycle. And it is absolutely indispensable that we have joint multisectoral interventions across four key life-saving sectors: food security, nutrition, water and sanitation, and health. And all of them need to go together if we are going to prevent a desperate situation from unfolding. They have a multiplier effect on each other in a positive sense.”
6. Med shot, journalist asking question
7. SOUNDBITE (English) Rein Paulsen, Director of Emergencies and Resilience, United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO):
“So, this is very much the situation as we face it now. Time is running out. We have this window through to June. We need to keep a close eye on what happens with the long rains, and above all, we do need support on an interagency basis for the actions that FAO and other partners are putting in place in support of governments. So very, very concerning situation.”
8. Wide shot, press room

STORYLINE:

Rein Paulsen, Director of Emergencies and Resilience at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the drought situation in the Horn of Africa is “now sitting on the brink of catastrophe,” and stressed that there was a “narrow window” for urgent action to prevent a “worst-case scenario.”

Speaking to reporters in New York today (14 Feb) via teleconference from Rome, Paulsen said FAO and its partners estimate that there are 12 to 14 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia facing very high levels of acute food insecurity as a result of the drought in the region. He said three consecutive failed rainy seasons have resulted in failed crops and massive deaths in livestock. He added that most of the reliable surface waterpoints which are usually resilient to climate variability have also dried up.

Paulsen was speaking following a visit to the region. He said data was pointing to the highest global acute malnutrition rates on record in parts of Kenya. He added, “We've been sounding, as FAO together with partners, the alarms since the middle of last year about how the situation was unfolding. And we are most definitely now sitting on the brink of catastrophe. We have a window to the middle of this year, to June, which is a very time sensitive, narrow window for urgent actions to scale up to prevent a worst-case scenario. Agriculture needs a lot more attention. It's central to the survival of drought affected communities.”

The FAO official said drought-affected communities have been hammered by a succession of challenges including desert locust swarms, conflict, COVID-19 challenges, and climate change. He said FAO and its partners are now watching with deep concern to see what will happen with the upcoming rainy season between March and May. He noted that if that season fails, an estimated 15 to 20 million people could face acute food security just as a result of the drought impact.

Paulsen underscored that the mistakes made in Somalia in 2011 cannot be repeated in the region and stressed the need for urgent action. He said, “Drought response, preventing famine, requires the right set of actions implemented at the right time in a drought cycle. And it is absolutely indispensable that we have joint multisectoral interventions across four key life-saving sectors: food security, nutrition, water and sanitation, and health. And all of them need to go together if we are going to prevent a desperate situation from unfolding. They have a multiplier effect on each other in a positive sense.”

Paulsen said this means funding is required for all of the organizations working in these areas. He noted that FAO requires 130 million USD through June to do three types of interventions: cash to buy food, keeping livestock alive, and allowing farms a chance to secure a harvest, including through drought-resistant seeds.

Paulsen also highlight FAO’s focus on building resilience. He said, despite the fact that there have been so many challenges, there still hasn't been a famine at scale. This, he said, is a testament to the resilient actions that governments, partners, and the UN agencies have been putting in place. However, he noted that the situation has now reached the limits in terms of what is possible in that regard.

The FAO official said, “So, this is very much the situation as we face it now. Time is running out. We have this window through to June. We need to keep a close eye on what happens with the long rains, and above all, we do need support on an interagency basis for the actions that FAO and other partners are putting in place in support of governments. So very, very concerning situation.”
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