Conflict and insecurity remain the dominant drivers of WFP’s operations across Eastern Africa. In a new study, the WFP Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa in Nairobi (RBN) undertook to better understand the root causes of the humanitarian need and vulnerability to which the organization is responding. The findings of this study indicate that 73 percent of WFP’s programmes and operations in the region are driven by conflict and insecurity, with 19 percent driven by natural disasters and climate change, while 9 percent are driven by socio-economic related shocks, including inflation and food price hikes, and other drivers. This complex interplay of hazards has recently been compounded by additional stress factors including COVID-19 pandemic and mitigation measures, the most severe desert locust infestation in decades and rapid urbanisation.
Eastern Africa hosts one of the largest displaced populations in the world; with a total refugee population of 4.5 million and 8.8 million internally displaced people (IDPs) as of June 2021. The total number of refugees in the region has risen by 230 percent from 1.4 million in 2011. South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) account for the largest refugee populations in the region, mainly displaced due to conflict and instability. South Sudan remains the largest refugee crisis in Africa and the third largest refugee crisis globally. Uganda hosts the largest refugee population in Africa. The Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) has been launched in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda. This framework’s main objectives are to ease pressure on host countries, enhance refugee self-reliance, expand access to third-country solutions and support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.
This far, no major outbreaks of COVID-19 have been reported in refugee or IDPs camps. However, the risk is still high with the region hosting some 100 refugee camps and settlements.
Donor support is needed to help bring attention to the critical needs of the refugees of Eastern Africa and the many risks of the continued underfunding of refugee operations in the region. Host governments continually meet their commitments under the CRRF – opening up local services, providing land and allowing integration with local populations. Additional support is needed to support the host governments and their goodwill and to not undermine developmental gains.