saw the crisis coming, had conferences and meetings, and tried to set alarm bells ringing in
early 2011 (FEWS NET, 2011a).
In 2011, areas of Ethiopia and Kenya and most of Somalia were already experiencing
extreme levels of food insecurity due to drought in previous years and deteriorating purchas-
ing power due to high food prices. Seasonal climate forecasts, when examined by a multi-
et al ., 2000). The region was very dry after very poor rainfall in 2010 - the driest in 30 years
clear and consistent information about the severe and worsening food security conditions in
the Horn starting in early 2011. The humanitarian community clearly stated that although
they were aware of the issues, they could not get a decision to act “up the chain of command.”
adequately to avert the crisis. Ultimately, it was only when over ten million people were at
risk and the crisis was declared a “famine” that funds were appropriated to provide adequate
resourcestointervene(Lautze et al ., 2012). This is clearly a failure of early warning, but not
because of the timeliness or content of warning, but because of the inability of the com-
munity to respond appropriately.
The lessons for the humanitarian community from the 2011 crisis include a focus on man-
acting, and should develop a common approach for response to quantitative triggers that will
result in actions. As indicators of food security crises improve, the obvious lag by countries
andinstitutionstotheseindicatorsbecomesmoreapparent(Lautze et al ., 2012). Earlier
response to droughts in vulnerable regions is necessary to avoid long-term damage to the
economy and to livelihoods. Integrating the impact of climate variability into food price and
food security analysis should clarify the likely impacts of droughts on outcomes. These lessons
can be implemented through:
needs through transfers and programs, and provide political leadership for drought
allowing long-term development interventions to adapt to changing environmental
weather and climate forecasts instead of waiting for the growing season to be over before
responding to the situation.
crisis response into development programming to enable funds to be released more
quickly and to support pre-emptive or early response that is effective before the crisis
becomes fully apparent (Hillier and Dempsey, 2012).
Given these challenges to effective early warning of crisis, it is not very likely that the improved
understandings provided in this topic regarding the connection between food production and
food prices will result in a reduction in the loss of life during a large crisis. A real transforma-
tion of the way crisis response is funded and the structure of the humanitarian community