We congratulate the African Union (AU) for calling together African Nations to demonstrate their support as partners with the international community to address the serious drought and famine facing the Horn of Africa. At an AU-organized pledging conference last week, Africans also expressed their deep appreciation to the international community for its overwhelming continued support to humanitarian relief as well as to assisting the African continent build capacity for addressing future crises.
The African Union has been using the phrase, "African Solutions for African Problems," to mean that Africa as a continent must endeavor to be full partners in addressing African problems. The African Union has never suggested that it wants to solve its problems in isolation from the international community rather it has consistently asserted that it wants to insert African partnership, plans, and proposals into the dynamic of the discovery of solutions to African problems.
By taking leadership, in concert with the United Nations and African Union Partner Group Nations, the African Union has demonstrated commendable leadership and has put into action the proverbial statement of "putting your money where your mouth is." The African Union is now committing over 350 million dollars to address the current drought and famine in the Horn. The long term goal of the AU is to set in place a mechanism to address the root causes of the crisis and prevent future famines. Jeff Hill, Director for Policy, USAID Bureau for Food Security in Washington, D.C., shared with us that he applauds the historic actions taken by the African Union in its efforts to participate as a donor to address Africa's worst humanitarian crisis in over a half century. We are excited to see that not only traditional donors like the United States and the United Kingdom, but also non-traditional donors such as Brazil, the Organization of Islamic Countries, and now Africans themselves are coming forth to help ensure a brighter future for the African continent.
In addition to the $350 million USD pledged by Africa to help in the relief effort, we must also give tremendous credit to nations, such as Kenya and Ethiopia, for the contributions they are making to the thousands of Somali citizens who have crossed their borders seeking relief from both famine and war. Ethiopia and Kenya have provided land, food, and safety for hundreds of thousands from Somalia. Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles announced at the pledging conference that Ethiopia will purchase 300,000 tons of food to replenish the food reserve it has had to use to feed persons within its borders during this crisis. In a "Kenya Helping Kenya" project, the Kenyan people have raised over $8 million USD helping those most at risk within its own borders.
The African Union is clearly a part of the solution. As the continental body that tries to articulate a common voice for the African continent, the African Union has proven that it can rise to the occasion of being a partner in raising the "African Voice to African Problems."