Dear Minister Ford,
I am writing to you to ask the UK Government to act urgently to prevent life-threatening hunger in East Africa. Across the region, people are suffering the worst drought in 40 years and over 10.6 million people are on the brink of famine, but this is not inevitable. The Government should be acting now to save lives and stop something like this from happening again.
In 2011, the global community failed to respond in time to the drought in Somalia. The resulting famine led to over a quarter of a million deaths, which could have been prevented.
However, in 2017, the UK Government played a crucial role in ensuring timely action to avert famine in Somalia. I am proud of their swift response and believe it demonstrates the role that the UK could, and should, be playing.
Since last year, the alarm bells have been ringing again, but we have once again been too slow to act.
The worst is yet to come as there are signs the rains will fail once more. The conflict in Ukraine is already contributing to rising food prices and availability in the coming months.
The UK must urgently prioritise more funding to Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya to ensure this quickly reaches the poorest people on the ground for essential food, water, medicines and treatment. This should include releasing £750 million in urgent funding to match the response in 2017 and turn the tide on an unfolding humanitarian crisis.
Additionally, it is vital that good nutrition is prioritised in the UK response to safeguard the futures of children experiencing life-threatening hunger and malnutrition.
Finally, the UK must work on long term solutions to prevent droughts from happening in the first place, enable communities to become more resilient to climate changes and develop robust early warning systems that allow the international community to act quickly and before it is too late.
As the Minister responsible for the UK's efforts in the Horn of Africa, you must urgently allocate more aid to prevent the next famine, save millions of lives, and help people fight such crises in the future. We cannot afford to waste more time.