As the continent commemorates the 2017 Day of the African Child, the focus on protecting children and creating equal opportunities for all, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, could not be more apt for millions of East Africa’s children today. World Vision is raising alarm about 1.4 million children in South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda who have abandoned their education and fled their homes due to armed conflict or extreme hunger due to drought.
“In many places, children are on the move, in search of safety and food, foregoing their education. We know that in South Sudan, schools have been violently attacked and one in every four schools is closed. In drought-affected areas of Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia, we have heard of schools closing because children no longer attend, as they search for food or water to survive,” says Zacharia Imeje, World Vision’s regional humanitarian and emergency affairs advisor in East Africa.
Widespread drought is affecting 22 million people across eastern Africa. A lack of sufficient growing conditions, water and food has displaced millions, separating families and forcing children in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia to migrate.“Largely, children who are displaced have been forced to abandon their education, and have been forgotten about by the rest of the world,” says Brenda Kariuki, World Vision’s director of advocacy, campaigns and external engagement in East Africa. “No matter what their circumstance or location, all children should have the opportunity to go to school. Governments and humanitarian actors should work together to ensure that children in drought or conflict affected areas do not forgo their education –it is their right, and we owe it to them.”
Food security outcomes have deteriorated in southern and southeastern pastoral areas due to the worse than expected Gu/Genna rainy season, particularly in southeast Somali Region. The Government of Ethiopia allocated US$29 million to respond to current health emergencies such AWD, SAM, and measles vaccination.
World Vision Ethiopia has been responding to the situation through nutrition support, water and sanitation, health, education and livelihood/food security projects targeting 713,965 drought affected people in SNNPR, Oromia, and Somali Regions allocating US$4.5 million.Earlier in March 2017 World Vision Ethiopia appealed to US$21.1 million to respond to the drought.