South Sudan + 3 more

Drought and conflict shutting down schools in East Africa

90,000 children a week at risk of dropping out of school

90,000 children a week are at risk of dropping out of school in 2018, warns Save the Children, in an appeal for education funding in emergencies across East Africa. For many this would be their second year out of school, forced to abandon their studies because of the drought.

In total this year 4.7 million children are at risk of dropping out of school across South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya - displaced from homes and schools because of the dual drivers of hunger: drought and conflict. That’s 12,000 children a day leaving school before gaining their qualifications - the consequences of which are grave.

Out of school, in the immediate term, children in crisis are more exposed to abuse such as child marriage, trafficking and prostitution. Children as young as eight years old are being recruited by armed groups in the region.

Save the Children is urgently appealing for funding to help keep children in school and to take schooling to the children who’ve already been forced to drop out. The alternative is a lost generation of children who have sacrificed their education in favour of a meal.

Close to 21 million people across South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya are currently food insecure, facing the new year in this state of emergency: their livestock dead or dying; their food stocks long eaten; savings spent and their land parched or inaccessible because of fighting. That spells a 36% increase over 2017.

In South Sudan, malnutrition has soared, especially among children. More than 1.1 million children under five are forecast to be malnourished in 2018, double the number from the same time last year. More children than ever are out of school.

In Somalia, six times the number of people (500,000 vs 83,000) are in urgent need of food assistance in this year as compared to January 2017, and half a million people remain in danger of slipping into famine. Only 30% of children are able to access learning opportunities.viii

In Ethiopia, according to the Ministry of Education, 623 schools have shut since February 2017 because of the drought, pushing 388,529 children out of lessons, that’s about 51 schools a month shutting down.

In Kenya, according to the Ministry of Education, on average three out of ten children are enrolled in school in the drought prone areas of Wajir and Mandera. The situation is worse for girls whereby only two out of ten are enrolled and even fewer complete their education. Schools close due to lack of water and the few children enrolled, drop out to migrate with their families in search of water and pasture.

David Wright, Regional Director for Save the Children in East and Southern Africa, said:

“If 12,000 children drop out of school every single day this year, this region will lose an entire generation of children who not only won’t reach their potential, but will face grave dangers to their health and well-being. No child should miss out on their right to an education. It’s especially crucial to keep schools open during a drought because schools offer a perfect opportunity to give children food, water and vaccines so they can learn, be safe and go on to achieve great things.”

Save the Children’s Response Plans for 2018 highlight innovative and tangible solutions for keeping chil-dren fed, in school and protected, while we help their families recover and plan for the future. School lunches and flexible timetables encourage enrolment and maintain attendance. Providing water and vac-cination campaigns during breaks prevents outbreaks of deadly diseases like cholera. Enabling children who’ve dropped out, our programmes take lessons to wherever they are, in displacement camps, refugee camps, with classes conducted under a tree if needs be. At the same time, we are addressing the needs of parents, through cash transfers and livelihoods programmes.

Education in Emergencies funding is critically low and has made up about 2% of the response funding for many humanitarian responses in the region.xi

Save the Children recommends a three-point plan to address the impact of drought and conflict on children’s wellbeing in East Africa:

  1. Address food insecurity, tackle the growing nutrition crisis and ensure children are able to survive and thrive.

  2. Ensure that children receive uninterrupted quality learning even in crisis.

  3. Prevent all forms of violence and exploitation against all children.


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