Aid groups seek to turn on funding tap to douse drought crises

Aid groups seek to turn on funding tap to douse drought crises.
BARCELONA/HARARE (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When a big earthquake, flash flood or other sudden disaster hits, aid agencies spring into action with emergency responses and public appeals for donations.
Hunger kicks in only after crops fail, food stocks are exhausted and livestock start dying – but by then, help often comes too late to head off the worst.
The Start Network, funded by the British, Dutch and Irish governments, is putting together a new financing facility to enable a faster and more coordinated response to droughts, and plans to test its model in Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
In May, the network convened local and international agencies in Harare to discuss how it might work in the southern African nation still smarting from a devastating 2015-2016 drought, driven by the El Nino climate pattern, which left some 4 million people in need of food aid.
"We realized humanitarian responses were not kicking in fast," said Emily Montier, manager of the drought project for the Start Network.
Montier said many aid groups responding to drought had tried to access the Start Network’s existing fund for swift relief in small-scale crises, but it backs 45-day projects which is too short for drawn-out situations like droughts.
With little help at hand, poor families are forced to sell off their cattle and other meager assets to survive.
"The government agencies do not have any plan so far to respond to drought," said Arif.
With work near completion on web-based scientific models to calculate drought risks and potential funding options, the Start Network is talking to donor governments about funding the next stage of implementing the facility in Pakistan and Zimbabwe.

Learn More