Ambassador Andreas Gaarder in Joint Norwegian Emergency Response Update. 
Photo: Hilina Abebe.Ambassador Andreas Gaarder in Joint Norwegian Emergency Response Update. Photo: Hilina Abebe

Norwegian NGO-Consortium

Thursday 8 September, Ambassador Andreas Gaarder attended the Joint Norwegian Emergency Response Update, where he emphasized the importance of cooperation between Norwegian NGOs in Ethiopia.

Earlier this year, four Norwegian NGOs (Norwegian Refugee Council, Norwegian Church Aid, the Development Fund of Norway and Norwegian People’s Aid), supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, decided to coordinate their efforts to alleviate severe drought and malnourishment in several parts of Ethiopia. Alongside local partners, the consortium is working tirelessly to provide shelter, agricultural products and latrines to drought-stricken households, as well as ensuring access to clean water and sanitary facilities, among other things. Learn more about the Norwegian NGO-consortium in the Ambassador’s remarks here:

Remarks for the Joint Norwegian Emergency Response Update, Thursday 8th Sept. 2016

Ladies and gentlemen,

It is a pleasure for me to be here today and take part in the Joint Norwegian Emergency Response Update.

Humanitarian affairs is a key pillar in Norway’s foreign and development policy. Last year, the resources allocated for humanitarian affairs represented a record high share of Norway’s development assistance budget. However, this comes not only as a result of Norwegian policies and priorities, but as a result of the unprecedented humanitarian needs in today’s world. Hence, we have to adjust our humanitarian response to the realities on the ground. Extraordinary challenges must be met with extraordinary effortss.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Today’s launch of this joint humanitarian response program sends a strong signal that the humanitarian emergency in Ethiopia is not over. We are not yet out of the woods, and the situation still requires our attention and our support. There are still 9.7 million people in need of humanitarian aid. 420 000 children below the age of five will need treatment for severely acute malnutrition. This tells us that there’s no time for complacency. We have to continue the response, and unite our efforts to reduce human suffering and prevent negative effects to the many development results achieved in Ethiopia over the past decade.

Keeping this in mind, I would like to applaud the Ethiopian government, the UN humanitarian system and all involved humanitarian NGOs, including the four behind this joint programme, for the efforts and results achieved thus far. Nine months ago, we did not know how far this emergency would go. We were operating with different scenarios, and working hard to get the message across to our home authorities and the humanitarian capitals of the world that Ethiopia - although rising and developing - was in need of our support in order to overcome the massive climatic shock the world came to know as the most severe El Niño ever recorded. 

The current drought caused by failing and erratic rains essentially demonstrates Ethiopia’s vulnerability to climatic shocks and the effects of climate change. In a country where more than eight out of ten people depend on rain fed agriculture, disruptions to the rain pattern will have wide-ranging consequences for the agricultural production, the economy, livelihoods and lives. Ethiopia recognizes this, and has therefore developed a highly inspiring and ambitious plan to secure development and economic growth, all the while reducing emissions and enhancing climate change mitigation. Norway supports Ethiopia’s efforts in this regard, through our climate partnership, which was entered in Durban in 2011.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As Norway’s ambassador to Ethiopia, I am proud to take part in today’s event. I am proud to witness how four Norwegian organisations - traditionally working in different fields and geographical areas of Ethiopia - have come together to respond to the humanitarian needs of the Ethiopian population. It is the first time ever that these organizations enter such a cooperation, and I believe the situation demanded and prompted it. I also believe that this cooperation is an intelligent, efficient and effective way of meeting the current needs. Together, these organizations possess a range of different expertise and skills, be it in shelter production, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, or Food Security. Together, these intervention areas contribute to fighting malnutrition, saving lives and livelihoods, and reducing the spread of water-borne diseases. And together, this programme builds on the expertise and skills of local partners, securing the interventions’ relevance and sustainability.   

Ladies and gentlemen,

Without paying any less attention to today’s situation and the current needs, I believe it is important to ask ourselves what we have learnt from this experience. In a humanitarian emergency, the saving of lives will and must always be our primary concern. However, as the second and third priorities in the Humanitarian Requirements Document remind us, the humanitarian response should also aim to protect and restore livelihoods, and prepare for and respond to other humanitarian shocks.

I believe this joint Norwegian Emergency Response does exactly that. Through the adoption of more long-term development strategies to the current emergency situation, this intervention focuses on inputs and activities with effects stretching beyond the current crisis.

The El Niño induced emergency in Ethiopia is a prime example of how humanitarian affairs and long-term development cannot be treated in separate silos. As we all know, it is not a matter of if, but when, Ethiopia will again be hit by a climatic shock. Knowing this, we as development and humanitarian partners share a responsibility to design and direct our contributions in such a way that people are not only protected from harm today, but that they can lead safer and more sustainable lives tomorrow. When we succeed in doing this, we will be one step closer to fulfilling several of the Sustainable Development Goals which the world has set for itself to achieve by 2030. 

I thank the Norwegian Refugee Council, the Development Fund of Norway, Norwegian People’s Aid and Norwegian Church Aid for their collective efforts and engagement, and wish you a fruitful remainder of today’s event.

Thank you.

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