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$3.9 billion pledged to avert famines

NAIROBI - International donors say they will not allow a repeat of last year’s Horn of Africa famine and are planning to spend billions of dollars on programs to help communities withstand cyclical droughts.

International donors have pledged $3.9 billion for programs such as crop resiliency during the next five years, Raj Shah, the head of the US aid arm known as USAID, said in an interview late Wednesday.

The British government estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 died in last year’s famine in Somalia and drought in Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Djibouti. About 12 million people needed food aid at some point. But the suffering was the worst in Somalia, where Islamist militants refused aid.


“The loss of life and the incredible human suffering was so tremendous during this last drought and we realized coming out of that . . . we need to internationalize and build a global movement to make real significant investments in resilience,’’ Shah said.

Shah said it costs less to help people in the Horn of Africa be able to withstand drought than to distribute aid.