Dwindling funding is one of the major challenges facing the region’s leaders at the seven-nation Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) summit in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The IGAD pledged to “continue mobilising resources to provide relief supplies,” to help more than 11 million people who face the threat of starvation because of drought and massive crop failure.
“In this regard, we call upon the international community to be forthcoming with sufficient resources to assist our efforts,” the summit’s joint communiqué said.
It comes as the European Union (EU) pledged EU€5 million (AU$8.44 million) to help millions of people in Kenya stave off the effects of the scorching drought.
A strong east African partner, the EU urged the region to fight a vicious cycle of poverty and crack down on instability out of concerns of far-reaching effects the problems have even in Europe.
“We feel the consequences of large number of migrants and refugees and the risk of the spread of trafficking and terrorism in the region,” EU Development and Humanitarian Aid Commissioner Louis Michel said.
The Horn of Africa is home to about 180 million people and conflicts arising over scarce resources in the region have been seen to be only getting worse.
Regional infighting has claimed millions of lives and caused deep suffering in the last 50 years including deadly conflicts in western Sudan, Somalia and northern Uganda.
The summit participants are adamant though that they have the means to turn around the situation.
“The region has the capacity to uplift itself from misery,” Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni told the summit.
“Over-internationalising” regional conflicts “will not bring solutions,” Mr Museveni said, citing Burundi as an example where Ethiopian and South African peacekeepers helped restore peace.
The new IGAD chairman, Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki, called for a unified effort in combat the searing drought, the seventh to ravage east Africa since 1975.
“In order to address the challenges effectively, we need to detail our cooperation and develop concerted sub-regional approaches and strategies that will create and environment favourable for socio-economic development,” Mr Kibaki said.
The IGAD communiqué also expressed “satisfaction” in the implementation of Sudan’s north-south peace plan, after the ongoing conflict there where 300,000 people have died and some two millions others displaced.
But the summit urged international donors to promptly deliver US$4.5 billion dollars that was pledged at the Oslo conference last year.
Sudan’s President Omar al-Beshir pledged to restore peace in Darfur, where, but rejected plans to deploy UN peacekeepers.