Addressing Food Insecurity and Climate Change in the Horn of Africa: Regional Solutions

  • The triple shocks of climate, COVID-19, and locust swarms have aggravated the plight of vulnerable populations in the Horn of Africa region.
  • Regional solutions are needed to complement countries’ efforts to address climate shocks and build resilience.
  • The Horn of Africa Initiative puts an emphasis on climate resilience through several programs funded by the World Bank


Food insecurity caused by failed consecutive rainy seasons – coupled with multidimensional vulnerabilities in the Horn of Africa (HoA) – has caused grave concern in the fragile and conflict-affected areas, urging a revisit of climate and resilience measures with a “new lens”. Regional solutions are important to complement country efforts, and Africa in general – and the Horn in particular – needed its fair share of climate financing and holistic approaches to climate shocks to build resilience.

The triple shocks of climate, COVID-19, and locust swarms had aggravated the plight of vulnerable populations in the Horn. About 6.7 million people in Somalia are likely to face worse levels of food insecurity. Famine is projected among agropastoral populations in southern Somalia, the area most impacted by conflict, and drought-related displacement since 2021 is 1.1 million, with 4.6 million people internally displaced (3 out of every 10). Moreover, the high costs of fuel and fertilizers is further intensifying the crisis, and statistics reveal that Eastern and Southern Africa account for 60% of fertilizer consumption in Sub-Saharan Africa, with Ethiopia, Kenya, and Sudan being top consumers.

Governments, regional organizations, development partners, and other stakeholders should to concert their efforts to stem the risks threatening development gains in the HoA region, such as food insecurity”, said Ms. Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director for Regional Integration for Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, during the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies’ Annual Forum held in Djibouti on December 5, 2022, on the theme of Climate Change and Conflict in the Horn: Challenges, Responses, and New Mandate. “The cost of inaction is even higher. A 3°C global warming by 2100 –i.e. “business as usual”—will bring estimated potential GDP losses of US$2.9 trillion”.

It is therefore important to rally appropriate climate adaptation and resilience strategies to combat the climate crisis. As part of this, agriculture and food systems in Sub-Sahara Africa will require substantial investments.

Cactus fruits from a plantation in Ethiopia © World Bank

To achieve lasting solutions, action plans need to be pro-poor and just, with effective policies that promote low carbon growth and climate adaptation. The Horn of Africa Initiative (HoAI) presents a new business model for regional integration, encompassing policy dialogue, investments, and political ownership. Its key priorities (regional infrastructure, trade, economic integration, resilience, and human capital development) are fully aligned with the World Bank’s Regional Integration and Cooperation Assistance Strategy. The Initiative’s priority package of $15.89 billion is being updated to include the development priorities of its new member, South Sudan.

Through the Initiative, maximum emphasis is being placed on climate resilience through several programs funded by the World Bank. These include:

  • a customizable $2.3 billion Food Systems Resilience Program whose initial phase will benefit 2.3 million people;
  • a $385 million Groundwater for Resilience Project covering the chronic water-deficit areas with climate-smart aquifer-harnessing solutions to bring improved water supply to 3.3 million people;
  • a $327.5 million De-risking, Inclusion and Value Enhancement of Pastoral Economies in the Horn through comprehensive innovative insurance solutions to 1.6 million pastoralists; and
  • a $1 billion Regional Climate Resilience Program will come as a bouquet of solutions including climate risk financing, climate resilience investments, climate asset management, and adaptive social protection for resilience.

The development challenges unleashed by climate change in the Horn, and in Africa in general, will require sustained efforts by all stakeholders toward building resilience and people-centric growth.

The World Bank, Africa Development Bank, the European Union, and others are working closely with the country governments, regional organizations, private sector, and civil society in the Horn of Africa to unlock maximum regional development and prosperity


Read the French version here.

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