Over the past one hundred years, billions of dollars and countless man hours have been spent on humanitarian relief efforts, yet these humanitarian emergencies are continually occurring, and some at even greater frequencies than ever witnessed before. The contemporary approach to humanitarian aid has, thus far, in many cases, led to little or no sustainable change in the communities of interest. The purpose of this paper is to explore and identify the reasons these emergencies continue to occur, gain an understanding for why many aid efforts have largely been ineffective in the Horn of Africa, and to present alternative approaches to humanitarian aid. To accomplish this aim, a thorough review of pertinent articles and documents outlining the region’s past and present was conducted. The research has highlighted the fact that the complex emergencies occurring in the region today cannot be credited to a single catalyst or event. Those working in humanitarian aid need to make a concerted effort, using evidence based public health, to understand and address these emergencies and all of their driving factors, be they religious, political, climactic, tribal, or any other cause identified.
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