BERN: The Horn of Africa is being ravaged by one of the worst droughts in recent history. About 10 million people in Ethiopia and Somalia – including large numbers of women, children and elderly people – are facing an existential threat caused by severe food shortages. Switzerland is gravely concerned about the current drought in the region and has allocated CHF 10.8 million to support the people affected by the crisis.
Three consecutive droughts have caused severe water shortages in the region. Livestock and crops have been lost, and the risk of disease and severe malnutrition has risen dramatically. Families are taking desperate measures to survive, and thousands are leaving their villages in search of food, water and pastureland.
The consequences of the drought are particularly devastating for vulnerable people. The drought increases the risk of gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and abuse, makes it difficult for children to access education, and leads to developmental disorders and diseases caused by malnutrition. Internally displaced people deprived of the support of their families or other social networks are even more vulnerable and in need of protection. Due to the conflict in Ukraine, there is also a risk that the prices of wheat and other staple foods will rise, further aggravating the situation of the people in Somalia and Ethiopia.
Rapid response to help people in need
To help people in need, Switzerland is contributing CHF 10.8 million to programmes run by the World Food Programme and the ICRC in Somalia and Ethiopia.
Switzerland is also replenishing emergency reserves for ongoing development projects. This rapid response allows these projects to mitigate the impact of the drought on people affected.
Switzerland is also contributing to the UN’s country-based pooled funds in Ethiopia and Somalia, which support local humanitarian partner organisations. These organisations are able to provide timely, coordinated and targeted assistance at low transaction costs.
Swiss Horn of Africa cooperation programme 2022–25
Switzerland’s contribution builds on the Swiss Horn of Africa cooperation programme 2022–25. The current programme, budgeted at CHF 215 million over the next four years, is the third instalment of the regional cooperation programme that was launched in the wake of the 2011 famine. More than 250,000 people lost their lives in Somalia alone as a result of that famine.
The programme is being implemented jointly by the FDFA (SDC and State Secretariat) and the FDJP (State Secretariat for Migration). In the Horn of Africa, Switzerland is engaged in local, national, regional and global efforts to address issues related to governance, food security, the protection of civilians/migration, and health.