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Humanitarian Action for Children: Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Response (Revised August 2017)

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The worst drought in a generation continues to deepen in a number of countries in the Greater Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya), exacerbated by three consecutive failed rainy seasons. Approximately 10.2 million children (18.5 million people) are in need due to malnutrition, water shortages, lack of health services, child protection violations and disruption to education. In Somalia, a famine has been adverted but remains a possibility. About 1.4 million people are internally displaced as a direct result of the drought in all three countries, with Somalia accounting for over half of this total.

Outbreaks of Acute Watery Diarrhoea / cholera remains a critical concern with over 90,000 cases reported in the Horn of Africa since January 2017. The crisis in South Sudan is deepening and has now left 1.9 million people internally displaced, with 2 million South Sudanese living as refugees in neighbouring countries. Forty percent of the South Sudanese population are food insecure, with children among the most vulnerable facing violence and abuse, hunger, life-threatening diseases, displacement and lack of protection and education opportunities which is exacerbated by a deteriorating economic situation.

In the Great Lakes, at least 3 million people, including 1.2 million children, have been affected by political crisis and continued economic decline in Burundi, while 417,000 Burundians have fled to neighbouring countries as refugees.

Southern Africa continues to be affected by the impact of previous El Niño drought and La Niña floods. While good harvests this year have improved access to food, poor health and pockets of high malnutrition persist, particularly amongst children in Zimbabwe and Southern Madagascar, particularly in the aftermath of cyclones and flooding earlier in the year. Angola has also received over 32,000 refugees from the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Disease outbreaks including cholera, typhoid, diarrhoea, dysentery and malaria persist in many parts of the region. Political tensions also present additional compounding risks in some parts of the region, and could trigger further internal displacement and cross-border movements.

Regional humanitarian strategy

The Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) regional humanitarian strategy has two tracks: The first track provides timely technical assistance and regional level surge support to UNICEF country offices to enable the delivery of effective interventions in the areas of nutrition, health, child protection, education, HIV/AIDS, social protection and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), reaching those most affected by crises. Support is also provided to build capacities and strengthen emergency preparedness, response and risk informed programming by country offices and partners.

The second track focusses on coordinated sectoral and multi-sectoral responses to crises that are regional or sub-regional in nature. This track supports country offices to effectively work together to deliver results at scale across several countries for greater impact, and to ensure optimal collaboration and alignment of approaches between countries. This strategy is currently being implemented in Southern Africa, the Greater Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes sub-regions where the impact of drought and conflict continue to affect children and their families’ in-country, and as communities move between countries.

ESARO mobilises resources against this regional HAC to respond to both tracks of humanitarian strategy. The aim is to provide technical support and mobilise resources for delivery of results in all sectors at country level, and in multi-country responses. This regional approach also allows for more effective regional cooperation with other organisations, including through several interagency bodies and mechanisms such as: the inter-agency humanitarian coordination forum in Southern Africa (RIASCO), in support of the South Sudan and Burundi Regional Refugee Response Plans (RRRP) and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), as well as the Intergovernmental Authority of Development (IGAD) to build further resilience to drought.

Results in 2017

Since January 2017, UNICEF and partners have reached 2.6 million women and children under-5 with life-saving health interventions in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. Half a million children with severe acute malnutrition have received therapeutic treatment; 3.4 million people have been reached with clean water, nearly a million children have been supported to remain/return to school, more than 120,000 children have been provided with comprehensive child protection services; and more than 25,000 households have received emergency unconditional cash-based assistance. Drawing on enhanced regional capacities, ESARO has supported humanitarian preparedness and response in 17 countries, and trained more than 130 UNICEF staff members in humanitarian programme and emergency response. Significant progress has also been made to support regional bodies to coordinate interagency humanitarian action in the region. ESARO continues to support the Level 3 emergency response in South Sudan and Level 2 drought response in the Greater Horn of Africa through operational support, resource allocation, surge capacity, technical guidance and oversight.