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May 23, 2023

ActionAid is calling on the governments of Italy, Qatar, the United Kingdom, and the United States to immediately support the humanitarian response in East Africa ahead of the high-level pledging event in New York. 

Urgent funding is required to support the climate-induced humanitarian crisis in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, driven by one of the worst droughts in East Africa and the continent. 

During climate disasters, it’s women and girls who bear the brunt of the impacts, with drought displacement increasing the risk of sexual and gender-based violence, unpaid care work, and limited or no access to emergency reproductive healthcare.  

ActionAid is calling on the international community to act quickly and commit resources, ensuring that there is no setback in the discussions that involve the lives of millions of women and girls at risk, as well as over 36 million people who are currently experiencing severe hunger.

We cannot afford to let history repeat itself when it comes to the chronic underfunding in the Horn of Africa. It is crucial for governments and donors to confront the inequalities in humanitarian funding. After four years of consecutive failed harvests, unpredictable rainfall patterns, and soaring global food prices, it is imperative to acknowledge the complex crisis unfolding in the region. This crisis encompasses not only the Sudan conflict but also its devastating ripple effects on neighboring countries. Action must be taken to address these pressing issues head-on.

Carbon emissions caused by rich nations are responsible for the dire situation millions of households in East Africa are experiencing. The continuity of austerity measures prioritizing debt servicing in foreign currency in the region’s states exacerbates the climate and debt crisis. Therefore, the international community has a responsibility to increase its financial support. 

In order to address these pressing issues, it is crucial that women and young people are actively included in these critical discussions. The governments of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia have a responsibility to promote the participation, leadership, and decision-making of women and young people in responding to droughts, conflicts, recovery efforts, and peacebuilding.

To effectively save lives and enhance resilience and disaster preparedness, it is essential to secure gender-responsive multi-year funding without any unnecessary delays. Without this vital funding, the prolonged humanitarian crisis in the region will only worsen, disproportionately affecting those who bear the least responsibility for the climate crisis.

Tinebeb Berhane, ActionAid Ethiopia’s Country Director, said:

“We are dealing with a multifaceted crisis in Ethiopia and East Africa. Our women and children, particularly girls, are disproportionately impacted by this devastating drought – the worst we have witnessed in history. This high-level discussion should result in real change, that is a substantial pledge that recognizes the dire humanitarian needs of millions of people across the Horn of Africa.”  

Susan Otieno, ActionAid Kenya’s Executive Director, said:

“What we are witnessing in Kenya as a direct result of the drought is cataclysmic. The risk of displacement and gender-based violence rises as the drought deepens. Immediate funding and long-term solutions must be agreed upon to put an end to the climate-induced suffering. I have seen first-hand how women and girls can transform their communities when given the opportunity. That opportunity must come now. We need to invest in the leadership of women and young people, before, during and after a crisis.” 


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Notes to editor    

Spokespeople available:  

Tinebeb Berhane, Country Director, ActionAid Ethiopia 

Mohamed Sillah, Country Director, ActionAid Somalia 

Susan Otieno, Executive Director, ActionAid Kenya 

About ActionAid   
ActionAid is a global federation that works with more than 15 million people living in more than 40 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just and sustainable world in which everyone enjoys the right to a dignified life and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work for social justice and gender equality, and poverty eradication. 

Support families on the brink of famine in East Africa

East Africa is facing one of the worst droughts on record with more than 40 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somaliland, and Somalia facing severe hunger and water shortages. Global food prices had already reached record highs when the war on Ukraine began, due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate disasters, and rising energy costs. Now, communities have reported soaring food and fuel prices. Drought, displacement, and rising hunger are also putting women and girls at increased risk of gender-based violence.