The Horn of Africa is a peninsula in East Africa encompassing Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia. In recent years the region has become prone to more intense, frequent and recurrent droughts. Prolonged droughts caused failed harvests, high levels of livestock deaths and increased food and water prices. The 2011 drought crisis in the Horn of Africa caused high mortality and malnutrition rates among thousands of people, including families affected by localised famine in pockets of Somalia. At the peak of the crisis, 13 million people were in need of emergency assistance.
In 2012, the number of people suffering from food insecurity decreased as a result of good harvests and significant international assistance. However, vulnerability remains high in all the areas affected by the 2011 drought as well as in those areas that did not receive sufficient rainfall this year. General insecurity as well as the ban imposed by armed militias on humanitarian operations in Somalia has critically reduced access to those in need. This is a cause of great concern and an increasing challenge for humanitarian organisations.
The drought in 2011 and the continuing conflict have generated a huge movement of people across borders. Kenya now hosts nearly 610,000 refugees from neighbouring countries. Dadaab refugee camps in northeast Kenya still remains the largest refugee camp in the world with almost 500 000 refugees, most of them from Somalia. Dollo Ado refugee camps in Ethiopia host over 180 000 refugees.
European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) current strategy is based on four pillars: life-saving humanitarian response (food assistance, nutrition, health, water, sanitation and hygiene, shelter, protection and non-food items); enhancing emergency preparedness mechanisms to reinforce the capacity of those affected to quickly and appropriately react to changing situations (i.e. sudden onset of natural disasters); supporting recovery; and increasing the resilience of populations and refugees while addressing their protracted and acute needs.
The European Union (European Commission and Member States) is one of the world's largest humanitarian donors to the Horn of Africa providing €966 million since 2011. In 2012 the Commission allocated €162 million in humanitarian assistance to the Horn of Africa and for 2013 has allocated €86.5 million.
In 2012 the European Commission proposed a new strategy for the Horn of Africa - Supporting Horn of Africa Resilience (SHARE) - which aims at breaking the vicious cycle of crises in the region. In the framework of SHARE, the European Commission is investing more than €270 million to support the recovery from the last drought through close cooperation between humanitarian aid and long-term development. It is also working to strengthen the population's resistance to future crises.