The African Development Bank has launched a $300m programme to support pastoral production in the region.
At the annual meetings of the African Development Bank, the Vice President Kamal Elkheshen argued the Horn of Africa food security crisis should be "kept alive" in international discourse. There have been 8 serious droughts in the Horn of Africa since the 1970s, and five of those have come in the last 8 years.
The AfDB has conducted meetings in recent months in Kenya and Djibouti, and launched a $300m programme to build resilience in the region, rather than rely on emergency responses which have dominated to date.
"There have always been extreme climatic conditions in the Horn region," Mr Elkheshen told the audience at the Arusha meetings. And projections by climatologists indicate conditions will grow more severe with climate change. "We take that as a given, as a constant."
Response measures need to take account of the dominant mode of production - pastoralism, he argued. Since animals are the basis of production for much of the regional population, building resilience into the production system is key. The Horn of Africa climate is not unique, he argued - parts of Asia and the Arabian Peninsula have similar woes - but those regions have also been blessed with natural resources, which mobilise the money needed to engage in significant importation during food shortages.
The Egyptian-born vice president of the AfDB announced the institution will respond to the challenge on four fronts. Firstly, building peace and stability in the region, especially in Somalia, on which a new conference is scheduled in Istanbul next week. The breakdown of food distribution networks due to conflict and territorial dispute is critical in turning a short-term food shortage into a longer-term food insecurity scenario.
Secondly, better donor coordination to promote synergy and avoid duplication in response measures was called for.
Thirdly, strengthening the pastoral mode of production, for example through rural roads to quicken and improve the functioning of food markets, as well as irrigation schemes, veterinary services and animal husbandry techniques could all help.
Finally, Mr Elkheshen called for greater focus on supporting alternative modes of production and value chains. While the Horn of Africa has 40 percent of Africa's livestock, it exports on 15 percent of Africa's livestock. He called for Horn countries to capture more of the value chain rather than only exporting live animals, for instance by moving into beef products.