Somalia + 5 more

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


Key messages

UNICEF is appealing for US$ 847 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 and Somalia 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 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 16 per cent.

  • Since our last Call to Action 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 are rising significantly. 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 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 another 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, and pasture, requiring a collective response by all humanitarian partners.

  • This is a water crisis and more than 8.5 million people, including 4.2 million children, are facing dire water shortages in the region.

  • The nutrition situation in the region is extremely concerning as malnutrition rates are increasing, particularly in Ethiopia, and in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs) of Kenya and Somalia.

  • Drought-induced population movement is further deepening the displacement crisis in the region with more than 7.5 million people displaced due to drought in 2022 in search of safety and assistance.

  • Children are at particular risk. Drought is affecting school attendance for learners in the affected areas. They are forced to move in search of water and livelihoods. Overall, 15 million children are out of school in the HoA and an estimated 1.1 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.

UNICEF and partners are on the ground in the five affected countries and working to support children with life-saving services and resilience response.

  • Over the past three months, we have provided essential lifesaving health, nutrition, immunization, WASH, education, child protection and GBV services and cash transfers.

  • UNICEF is the leading UN agency:

  • In providing access to clean water and reliable sanitation, and for promoting basic hygiene practices in rural and urban areas, including in emergency situations.

  • In providing nutrition response across the HoA countries, supporting a harmonized multi-agency response, including for the life-saving treatment of severe acute malnutrition.

  • UNICEF is uniquely positioned to address the water emergency via a nexus lens of immediate humanitarian help and longer-term development, to make communities more resilient for the next drought, given the climate change patterns that are predicted for this region. We are also making smart investments in the longer-term resilience of communities and their children, through nutrition and health system strengthening and strengthening government-led social protection systems.

  • UNICEF is frontloading its internal core resources in the drought response in the five countries on a no-regrets basis to scale up the response including procurement life-saving supplies like RUTF, and supporting enhanced community outreach, as well as make strategic, early investments in long-term resilience, particularly supporting communities with climate-resilient water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and nutrition interventions.