The crisis in the Horn of Africa
by Humanitarian Practice Network March 2012

The special feature of this issue of Humanitarian Exchange, co-edited with HPG Research Fellow Simon Levine, focuses on the crisis in the Horn of Africa.

Although predicted more than a year in advance, the response to the crisis in many areas of the Horn has again come far too late.

  • Debbie Hillier argues in the lead article that the aid system overall needs to be reviewed, focusing on longer-term programmes which build resilience, reducing the risk of crisis and the need for short-term life-saving interventions. We also need to rethink how assistance is delivered in the Horn.
  • Breanna Ridsdel outlines in her article how humanitarian organisations are increasingly using cash and vouchers, raising particular issues of coordination.

Turning to specific country cases:

  • Matt Hobson and Laura Campbell review how the Risk Financing Mechanism of the Ethiopian Productive Safety Net Programme has been used to expand the caseload in time of transitory crisis and enable households to receive assistance before the crisis hits.
  • Adrian Cullis highlights positive developments in the management of drought in Ethiopia, with particular reference to the drylands.
  • Based on experience from Northern Kenya, Andreas Jenet and Eunice Obala discuss how reciprocal grazing agreements can contribute to increasing the resilience of pastoralists.
  • Wendy Erasmus, Leina Mpoke and Yacob Yishak argues that longer-term risk reduction approaches enhanced the resilience of pastoralists in Moyale district in Northern Kenya.
  • Riccardo Polastro highlights the key findings from the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) evaluation of the humanitarian response in South Central Somalia.
  • Sara PantulianoandVictoria Metcalfe analyse the operational impact of counter-terrorism legislation on humanitarian action in the country.
  • Samir Elhawary explores the impact of UN integration arrangements.
  • Finally, Damien Mc Sweeney highlights how drought, conflict and insecurity have led to a massive deterioration in security in the Dadaab camps.

Articles in the policy and practice section of this issue include:

  • An analysis of how Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has adapted its approach to providing emergency medical care in the Middle East.
  • An update on major changes in the 2011 edition of the Sphere Handbook.
  • Reflections on the activities and potential impact of the Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Consortium.
  • Military and humanitarian cooperation in managing Haiti’s air operations following the 2010 earthquake
  • AidLink’s experience of using text messaging to help streamline humanitarian aid delivery.