Somalia + 5 more

Regional call to action - Horn of Africa drought crisis: climate change is here now, July 2022


Key messages

UNICEF is appealing for US$ 986 million to provide urgent life-saving and climate resilience support to 4.2 million people, half of them children, in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea, and Djibouti. Right now, 2 million children across Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Djibouti are in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition.

This is a humanitarian catastrophe. Children in the Horn of Africa (HoA) are experiencing the impacts of one of the worst climate-induced emergencies of the past 40 years, with the lowest levels of funding on record not allowing the humanitarian community to respond as needed.

Urgent aid is needed to prevent parts of the region sliding into famine.

War in Ukraine is having dire and deadly implications for child malnutrition in the Horn of Africa (HoA), with supply lines and food production disrupted, exacerbating already soaring global food prices. This comes as the price of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic food – critical treatment for children with severe acute malnutrition - is set to increase by 17 per cent.

Since our last Call to Action was released in February 2022, there has been a 38 per cent increase in families in need. In addition, household water insecurity has increased by 88 per cent and the cost of water and food has risensignificantly. Cases of diseases like cholera, measles, and diarrhea are increasing too.

Over 20 million people and at least 10 million children are currently facing severe drought conditions due to the failure of four and possibly five consecutive dry seasons, with the 2022 March-May rainy season likely to be the driest on record, killing livestock and crops, displacing populations, increasing the risk of disease and malnutrition, and pushing children and families to the brink of death / destitution.

Weather forecasts already suggest temperatures will climb higher than usual in the coming weeks. In addition, early forecasts suggest an increased probability of further below-average rainy season between October and December 2022.

The crisis in the HoA is depriving children and adolescents from having a home, a meal, a classroom, and access to water and life-saving health and protection services.
Communities are taking extreme measures to survive, with thousands of children and families leaving their homes in pure desperation in search of water, food, pasture, and treatment sick for children requiring a collective response by all humanitarian partners.
This is a water crisis with more than 8.5 million people, including 4.2 million children, are facing dire water shortages across the region.

The nutrition situation in the region is becoming catastrophic as malnutrition rates are increasing, particularly in Ethiopia, and in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of Kenya and Somalia with more than 1.8 million children expected to be wasted in 2022.

Drought-induced population movement is further deepening the displacement crisis in the region with more than 7.5 million people displaced due to drought and other factors such as insecurity.

Children are at particular risk. Drought is affecting school attendance for learners in the affected areas as families are forced to move in search of water and livelihoods.

Overall, 15 million children are now out of school in the HoA and an additionally estimated 3.3 million children are at risk of dropping out due to drought.

Drought further exacerbates child protection risks, and many families are forced to adopt negative coping mechanisms for survival, such as child marriage, particularly threatening adolescent girls. Drought also pushes more families to leave their communities in the hope of a better future, thus leading to risks of family separation and child labour.

Risks of gender-based violence (GBV) including sexual violence, exploitation and abuse and Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) are becoming even more acute due to drought, widespread food insecurity and displacement.
Female-headed households, adolescent girls, older women and those with disabilities are facing heightened threats.

Drought conditions increase the risk of disease outbreaks including water-borne diseases among the affected population.