The Horn of Africa region has been dependent on food aid for decades due to insufficient food production and recurrent food shortages, drought and famine. Heavy rains, high food and fuel prices, and conflict have led to a large-scale food crisis reaching across four countries and affecting over 10 million people. Humanitarian organizations have rapidly scaled up operations to manage the escalating emergency.
Towards a Solution
Beyond the support of traditional donors, contributions seeking to mitigate the effects of the crisis have also been made via twinning with Southern partners, which has allowed developing countries to take on stronger roles in food assistance.
During the 2011/12 hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia received in-kind contributions (including rice, sugar, fish, beans and meat) worth over USD 13.9 million from countries including Angola, Cuba, Mozambique, Namibia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, and Zambia. In Ethiopia alone, these contributions reached 1.4 million food-insecure people.
WFP facilitated this twinning arrangement by matching Southern in-kind contributions with co-financing cash contributions for full cost recovery (including for transport, distribution and overhead). It is remarkable that Southern partners, such as Mexico and Namibia – not just traditional donors, such as Australia or Spain – provided the required cash for the twinning.
In cases where no matching cash donor could be found, the gaps were filled through a dedicated Emerging Donors Matching Fund (EDMF)1. The EDMF was key to success as it addressed shortfalls when no (or insufficient) cash donations were received in order to fully recover the cost of an in-kind contribution, as in the case of Sri Lanka’s rice contribution to Ethiopia.
Closing these financial gaps and mobilizing resources from cash donors were critical to this twinning. WFP was able to match contributions using its global network and the support of partner countries and WFP Country Offices in resource mobilization, management and programming.
The unique collaboration with Horn of Africa countries was supported by WFP using different modalities of South-South and triangular cooperation, which helped to achieve greater impact in food security. The in-kind contributions through the twinning arrangements in 2011/12 are one example, while the transfer of Southern expertise in the development of strategies towards zero hunger, e.g. through Ethiopia’s collaboration with the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger, is another.
During the crisis, WFP took steps beyond matching in-kind and cash contributions, as countries received additional support to organize the twinning arrangements through a careful security analysis in affected countries and, in some cases, programming and resource management for the contributions received.
Drawing on existing relationships and support with the governments in the Horn of Africa region, WFP utilized its existing experience, tools and methodologies in food security analysis, programming and resource management, and its institutional memory in handling food crises in other countries.
Key results and benefits through twinning included:
- Reach: in Ethiopia alone, twinning arrangements reached 1.4 million food-insecure people in 2011/12. This shows that twinning works if quality assurance and predictable cash flows are in place;
- Strengthened response mechanisms: Twinning arrangements can strengthen the countrys economy and ability to respond to food and nutrition challenges when the country is in food deficit;
- Reshaping forms of engagement with countries: Twinning arrangements can prove useful in engaging with less-developed, low-income and lower middle- income countries on a balanced partnership basis. This allows WFP and its partner countries to move beyond the outdated North-South divide and ‘provider- recipient’ relationships;
- Complementarity: The in-kind contributions received during the crisis enabled WFP to reduce the expense of food purchases. This helped to assist the affected populations for longer periods. In addition, since most of the in-kind assistance was rice, WFP was able to distribute it in refugee camps where rice is the preferred commodity and to allocate other food (e.g. wheat and maize) to different refugee camps where the population is used to eating these commodities;
- Cost effectiveness: Twinning can be a win-win mechanism in terms of cost effectiveness: costs are often divided between in-kind contributions and cash contributions, allowing both to maximize impact while splitting the costs (providing food, transportation and management). For example, for WFP, the overall cost can be lower than with cash contributions;
- Strengthening Southern relationships and partnerships: In-kind contributions from developing countries to Horn of Africa countries can have a positive effect on foreign affairs and political relationships among these countries. As these government-to-government relations are rather complex, it can be difficult to relate results directly to a specific twinning case, but this may be observed over time from a broader foreign relations perspective.
Twinning has become a win-win approach for the sponsoring countries, which raised their profiles as Southern providers, and the Horn of Africa countries, which received urgent in-kind contributions and tested their own provider functions within their own countries. For WFP, the twinning arrangement made it possible to tap into additional resources for a greater impact in responding to the hunger crises.
To replicate twinning mechanisms, it is important to note that they require quality assurance and considerable coordination and capacities at the country level. In addition, back-up funds to manage unforeseen shortfalls of co-financing partners need to be in place.
The twinning programme has proven to be complementary and cost-effective and has helped to strengthen Southern relationships and partnerships. These are key factors that contribute to the sustainability of twinning. It has had a positive influence on political relationships among the countries involved and has also helped to maximize the impact in the Horn of Africa countries by splitting costs.
Sustainable Development Goal target(s): 2.1, 2.2, 17.3, 17.6
Countries/ territories involved: Cuba, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan
Supported by: WFP
Implementing entities: WFP
Project status: Completed
Project period: 2011-2012
- Ms. Carola Kenngott, South-South Cooperation Focal Point, WFP, email@example.com
- Mr. Andrey Shirkov, Donor Relations Officer, WFP, firstname.lastname@example.org