Cyclical drought, exacerbated by one of the strongest El Niño weather events ever recorded is putting the lives of millions children at risk of malnutrition, water shortages and disease in seven priority countries in Southern Africa. Over half a million children are currently suffering from severe acute malnutrition in seven priority countries in southern Africa, while 3.2 million children have reduced access to safe drinking water as a direct result of the El Niño drought. Many health facilities and schools are in critical need of improved water supply and sanitation facilities to enable the continuity of services. The number of children to be directly affected by either malaria, cholera, diarrhoea, measles and/or pneumonia is expected to more than double that of average annual cases due to the El Nino drought. Children are facing increased protection risks as families and communities move in search of work, food, water and grazing land for animals. Children are also finding it difficult to stay in school, due to hunger and/or lack of water. Southern Africa is the global epicenter of the AIDS pandemic, and the drought is making life even more precarious for children affected by HIV.
Governments and partners have been responding since 2015, but the scale of the crisis has outstripped the coping capacities of communities and the resources of government, putting decades of development gains at risk. Urgent investment is required as the crisis is likely to continue well into 2017, and may be further compounded by the coming La Niña weather event would result in further erratic climate conditions.
UNICEF Response in Southern Africa
In 2016, UNICEF has reached:
• 52,000 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) treatment
• 206,000 children with life-saving health curative interventions
• 608,000 people with clean water and WASH support
• 74,000 children with protection and psychosocial services
• 100,000 people with HIV education and services
UNICEF Requirements for Southern Africa
To meet the humanitarian needs of women and children affected by El Niño in Southern Africa, UNICEF requires a total of US$ 96.7 million, of which only 18% has been received to date. The current gap is US$79.4 million, as follows:
• US $15.7 million for lifesaving treatment for malnourished children, including treatment for SAM
• US $22.3 million for the WASH response
• US$18.8 million for health interventions
• US $4 million for child protection services
• US $0.6 million for provision of HIV education and access to services
US $18 million for education, social protection, and other sectoral services.
Situation in Numbers
In Seven Priority Countries in Southern Africa
7.8 million Children are food/nutrition insecure
513,000 Children are suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM)
3.2 million Children have reduced access to safe drinking water as a direct result of the El Niño drought
7.5 million Children are expected to be affected by health related concerns in 2016/2017 directly related to the impacts of El Niño (malaria, cholera, diarrhoea, measles and/or pneumonia)