Humanitarian Action for Children 2017 - Southern Africa El Niño/La Niña
Total people in need:16.1 million
Total children (< 18) in need: 5.2 million
Total people to be reached in 2017: 7.2 million
Total children to be reached in 2017: 3.8 million
The 2015–2016 El Niño phenomenon resulted in the worst drought in 35 years for much of southern Africa. For millions of people across the sub-region, particularly children, the impact on food security has been catastrophic. In the eight most-affected countries (Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe), an estimated 16.1 million people will require assistance between December 2016 and March 2017, including some 5 million children who will require urgent humanitarian assistance. In addition, more than 4 million children need support to remain in school. In 2017, more than 207,757 children under 5 will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) across southern Africa. The region is also experiencing wider humanitarian needs due to water scarcity, poor hygiene, frequent child illnesses, reduced access to HIV prevention and treatment services, low school attendance, increased risk-taking behaviour among adolescents and the departure of primary caregivers, including breastfeeding mothers, from the home in search of water. These issues continue to aggravate the situation of children in most countries in southern Africa. The drought is overwhelming national response capacities and has compounded existing vulnerabilities.
The impact of the higher than average La Niña rains may lead to displacement, infrastructure damage and cholera and other disease outbreaks in some countries.
UNICEF will continue the response to the drought in southern Africa by supporting government-led responses to provide lifesaving services and support to address the needs of the most-affected populations. UNICEF’s strategy will be delivered through sectoral responses in health, nutrition, child protection, education, HIV/AIDS, social protection and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), supported by various communication and community engagement strategies. In preparation for the La Niña rains, UNICEF will enhance inter-agency emergency preparedness planning, including pre-positioning relief supplies in flood-prone zones and capacity building for governments and partners to strengthen flood response mechanisms. Ongoing dialogue and planning with at-risk communities will strengthen preparedness actions at the household level. By applying a risk-informed lens to programming, UNICEF will prioritize recovery actions and interventions to help break the cycle of recurrent droughts in southern Africa. UNICEF will promote inter-agency implementation of resilience-building actions aligned with the UNICEF Regional Office strategy for resilient development and the Regional Interagency Standing Committee for Southern Africa Plan of Action. Risk analysis, assessments, monitoring, reporting and strengthening of coordination mechanisms will also be key elements of UNICEF’s 2017 humanitarian strategy in southern Africa.