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IMF urges "timely" support for drought

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The International Monetary Fund
The Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Rodrigo Rato, has appealed for adequate and timely assistance to east African nations in the grip of severe drought. Rato said the international community must take steps "to avert the risk of a humanitarian crisis". "I urge the international donor community to respond generously and pro-actively in addressing the food needs of Africa's people," he said in a statement on Tuesday. "In view of income levels in most countries, such aid should be provided preferably in the form of grant financing or in-kind." "It will be critical to respond in a timely manner - avoiding the human tragedies and adverse economic consequences that have all too often been associated with droughts in the past," he added. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, an estimated 11 million people "are on the brink of starvation" in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said on Monday that failed rains had left Ethiopia's southeast and east "confronting an escalating humanitarian crisis", with some 1.75 million people likely to be acutely affected by the drought. OCHA said about two million people in Somalia and 150,000 in Djibouti - nearly a fifth of the population - were also in desperate need of food assistance. In Kenya, the government has appealed for assistance to feed an estimated 3.5 million people in 37 drought-affected districts. Expressing "deep concern" about the food insecurity, Rato said the IMF would advise the African countries on how best to strengthen their macroeconomic stability and income growth. "We are prepared, as in the past, to provide financial support by augmenting existing programs or by providing new financial assistance to countries that experience drought-related balance of payments needs," Rato said. "The donor community can also help with securing more durable solutions to the food insecurity in Africa," he added. "This could include support for reforms to improve agricultural productivity as well as steps to improve the internal distribution and food storage capacities in the region."

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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