Relief SCENE:
Agencies Struggling to Raise Cash for Famine
Serious Food Deliveries Still Weeks Away
By SOMALIA REPORT 08/05/2011

As famine continues to bite, Somalia Report polled key aid agencies to find out exactly how close they are to hitting their funding targets to deal with the crisis in Somalia. The above graphic details the figures from those who responded, and were current on August 4.

The full consolidated appeal for Somalia issued on November 30, prior to the full-scale of the disaster being revealed, called for $529,520,029. As can be seen from the graph, the needs of the agencies listed have since doubled.

Overall, the UN says it needs another $1.4 billion to deal with the drought in whole of the Horn of Africa, with the current funding levels standing at 44%.

While some aid has been delivered to al-Shabaab-controlled areas - where it most needed - from the likes of UNICEF and the ICRC, the UN says only 20% of the 2.8 million people in urgent need of food aid in southern Somalia are being reached.

The head of an NGO operating in al-Shabaab areas said that concerted aid was still at least a month away.

"There is still no serious money or food in the system – still 4 to 8 weeks away I’m being told," he told Somalia Report on condition of anonymity. "The UN is running a dangerous media campaign when you consider that they have declared famine: all smoke and mirrors, nothing actually happening on the ground."

Considering tens of thousands have already believed to have died this year, many more famine-related casualties can be expected before aid truly penetrates.

The WFP, which normally leads response to such disasters, is banned from operating in al-Shabaab areas, but insiders say discussions are taking place for the agency to partner with groups who are not banned in order to deliver food.

The US also says it is going to be more relaxed about enforcing legislation aimed at stopping American money given to agencies from falling into the hands of al-Shabaab - deemed a terrorist organization by the US - through payments to allow deliveries or the appropriation of aid.

"But in the face of this evolving crisis and the extreme humanitarian needs, we have issued new guidance to allow more flexibility and to provide a wider range of ... aid to a larger number of areas in need," a senior administration official said this week. "We hope this guidance will clarify that aid workers who are partnering with the US Government to help save lives under difficult and dangerous conditions are not in conflict with US laws and regulations that seek to limit the resources or to eliminate resources flowing to al-Shabaab."

However, the aid worker was skeptical about the approach and said that US dollars were yet to find their way in.

"They are definitely feeling the heat," he said. "While they are indicating a change in policy, the nuance in their briefing indicates to me that it is still about deflecting criticism and maintaining pressure on al-Shabaab."

"Currently, we do not have a single dollar of US funding (in cash or in-kind) – historically the US has been the most generous donor to Somalia," he added. "Their continued absence in south and central mean that nothing systemic is being achieved."