February 4, 2023

More than twenty million children suffer in the Horn of Africa as drought increases

Women and children from the pastoral Turkana community carry jerrycans as they search for water among shallow wells dug on a riverbed at Sopel location near administrative capital, Lodwar town in Turkana county on September 27, 2022. - The United Nations warned that countries in the horn of Africa more Somalia and similarly Kenya's arid nothern reaches are on the brink of famine for the second time in just over a decade. (Photo by Tony KARUMBA / AFP) (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)

Ibrahim Konate in Somalia

According to UNICEF, the number of children exposed to extreme drought conditions in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia has more than doubled in five months. Some 20.2 million children are now at risk of hunger, thirst, and disease, up from 10 million in July as climate change, conflict, global inflation, and grain shortages ravage the region.

An estimated two million children in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia are currently in urgent need of treatment for severe malnutrition caused by the deadliest form of hunger.

“While collective and accelerated efforts have mitigated some of the worst impact of what had been feared, children in the Horn of Africa are still facing the most severe drought in more than two generations,” said UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Lieke van de Wiel.

“Humanimpactsn assistance must be continued to save lives and build the resilience of the staggering number of children and families who are being pushed to the edge – dying from hunger and disease and being displaced in search of food, water and pasture for their livestock.”

In addition, across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia:more than two million people are internally displaced due to drought. Water insecurity has more than doubled, with nearly 24 million people currently facing severe water shortages.

Approximately 2.7 million children are absent from school due to drought and an additional 4 million children are estimated to be at risk of dropping out. As families are pushed to the brink in the face of increased stress, children face many protected risks including child labor, child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM).

Gender-based violence (GBV), including sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, is also increasing due to food insecurity and widespread migration. Thanks to the generous support of donors and partners, UNICEF continues to deliver lifesaving services to children and families across the Horn of Africa, while preparing for new shocks, build resilience and strengthen key services.

In 2022, UNICEF and its partners delivered life-saving health care services to nearly two million children and women, vaccinated nearly two million children aged 6 months to 15 years with measles vaccination and provided supplying drinking water to more than 2.7 million people. for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene.

UNICEF’s 2023 Urgent Call for $759 million to provide life-saving assistance to children and their families who will need prompt and flexible financial assistance, particularly in areas education, water and sanitation, and child protection, which are severely short of the 2022 response.

An additional $690 million is needed to support long-term investments to help children and families recover as well as their adaptation to climate change.

“As governments and people across the world prepare to welcome a New Year, we urge the international community to commit to responding now for what might hit the Horn of Africa next year, and in the years to come,” says Lieke van de Wiel. “We need a global effort to mobilize resources urgently to reduce further devastating and irreversible damage to children in the Horn of Africa. We must act now to save children’s lives, preserve their dignity and protect their futures.”