International Development Questions: Horn of Africa

Peter Aldous questions the Secretary of State for International Development about building up long-term resilience in the agricultural systems in the countries in the horn of Africa.

Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): What recent assessment he has made of the food situation in the horn of Africa; and if he will make a statement. [65542]

The Secretary of State for International Development (Mr Andrew Mitchell): Up to 10 million people need emergency relief, especially in south-east Ethiopia, southern central Somalia and northern Kenya. We are seeing acute malnutrition in all these places. The crisis is provoked by the failure of the rains for two consecutive years and is characterised by the loss of crops and livestock, exacerbated by high food prices. The situation is unlikely to improve before the October rains.

Peter Aldous: Will the Secretary of State set out the steps that his Department is taking to build long-term resilience in the national agricultural systems in the countries in the horn of Africa so as to reduce the impact of potential crises such as the one they face?

Mr Mitchell: My hon. Friend is right to make it clear that food security over the longer term is the key way to tackle such disasters. It is also true, however, that it is no fault of the horn of Africa that there have been no rains for the past two years and that a serious situation has been exacerbated by that. I can tell him that there has been significant progress and over the past 20 years, for example, the incidence of acute malnutrition in Ethiopia has gone down by some 50%.

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