A Global Commitment to Education in Emergencies
Agenda 2030 aims to extend the right of education to all children around the world, especially the most vulnerable and excluded. In the past year, the fundamental importance of providing education to children and youth in emergency situations has been recognized and affirmed repeatedly by the international community. Participants at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul explicitly recognized education in emergencies (EiE) as an area worthy of global attention, while acknowledging the historical inadequacy of EiE funding. In response to rising global awareness, the European Union committed to allocate 4% of its humanitarian aid budget to EiE. Also in 2016, a new global fund, Education Cannot Wait, was established to augment funding for EiE, while ECHO announced a commitment to spend 6% of its global humanitarian budget on education.
Horn of Africa Crisis: Testing the Global Commitment
The crisis in the Horn of Africa is a test of the international community’s resolve. Drought threatens the future prospects for a generation of learners. However, rather than seeing the recommended 4% of humanitarian aid being allocated to education, we are witnessing catastrophic shortfalls in funding. Of the US $2.7 billion in humanitarian appeals in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, only $970 million in funding has been committed. Educational projects responding to the crisis have received just $16.5 million, which represents 1.7 % of total funds.
An immediate and effective education response is required in order to save lives and secure a more resilient future. Attending school allows drought affected learners to access critical services such as meals, potable water and messaging on life-saving hygienic practices. If donors increase levels of funding allocated to education for the humanitarian response, governments and humanitarian actors can ensure that the most vulnerable sufferers of drought – children and youth – do not pay a lifelong price for our inaction.
Funding Status of Drought Appeals
As of August 2017, humanitarian appeals for Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia have totalled US $2.7 billion. Education-specific funding in these requests totals $85 million, or 3.2% of the full request. Yet only $16.5 million has been received by education actors to date. This represents just 1.7% of the overall $970 million received for the appeals.
Recommendations for Action
Recognising that education is a critical link in the humanitarian-development nexus, that it protects the gains made with the support of developmental investments, and that education serves to tackle the long-term systemic drivers of drought, we call upon:
Donors and policy-makers to fully fund the education requirements set out in appeals to respond to drought in the Horn of Africa;
Humanitarian actors to utilize schools and learning spaces as safe integrated platforms for the delivery of drought assistance and emergency responses;
Drought-affected countries’ governments to ensure children and youth displaced by drought have access to education wherever they are.