World Bank, UNHCR Join Efforts in an Emergency Response to Malnutrition and Disease in Horn of Africa Refugee Camps
Press Release No:2012/074/AFR
Some 550,000 people, mostly women and children, expected to benefit
WASHINGTON, September 15, 2011 – Over half a million people, mostly women and children, will be able to access nutrition, health and sanitation services in refugee settlements along the Somali border in Kenya and Ethiopia as a result of a US$30 million grant which the World Bank announced today.
The grant is drawn from the $250 million earmarked for the Horn of Africa drought through the Crisis Response Window (CRW) recently established as part of the International Development Association (IDA)—the World Bank Group’s fund for the world’s 80 poorest countries—to respond in a timely manner to emerging crises in low-income countries.
The $30 million grant will be administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) under the Horn of Africa Emergency Health and Nutrition Project, which is one of several initiatives undertaken by the World Bank to respond to one of the worst droughts in the Horn of Africa sub-region in more than half a century.
The drought has caused deaths, widespread hunger, massive displacement, and loss of means to survive in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, where the United Nations has declared a famine. Nearly 13.3 million people across the sub-region are in need of immediate humanitarian assistance.
Specifically, the grant will help reinforce ongoing UNHCR relief efforts with an emphasis on the most vulnerable, notably women and children. Targeted activities include measures to combat malnutrition (such as nutritious food and micronutrient supplements); basic health services, including pediatric and maternal care; and immunization. In addition, grant resources will be used to expand access to safe water and sanitation services, and to prevent and treat common illnesses such as diarrhea, measles, and malaria.
“When communicable diseases are addressed in densely populated environments such as refugee settlements, it is not only refugees who benefit, but also their host communities,” said António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees. “The funds granted today will allow us to expand coverage of essential health, nutrition, and sanitation services in the largest refugee camps in the Horn of Africa.”
Over the 18-month span of the project, it will help address the immediate needs of refugees in targeted camps, including those in the Dadaab complex in Kenya and the Dollo Ado area of Ethiopia, where there are nearly 600,000 Somali refugees.
Data collected at the camps shows alarming rates of severe acute malnutrition, especially among children under five years of age. Water shortages are also frequent. New refugees arriving at these sites are weak and prone to illness, and children are particularly at risk of dying of malnutrition and diarrheal diseases.
“The scale and severity of the Horn of Africa drought compels development agencies, governments, and NGOs to work in close collaboration in ways that maximize the comparative advantage of all partners,” said Obiageli Ezekwesili, World Bank Vice President for the Africa Region. “This approach ensures that we do not lose sight of the links between short-term crisis mitigation and the long term development outlook.”
The deadly nature of the drought has prompted the World Bank’s Board to allow unprecedented measures. This is the first grant through the Crisis Response Window issued directly to a UN agency. It is also the first time that the implementing entity’s procedures – not World Bank procedures - will be used through the life of this project, thus enabling an exceptional application of the 2008 Fiduciary Principles Accord signed between the Bank and the United Nations to this IDA operation.