Coordination for children affected by drought
An estimated 10.2 million girls and boys are at imminent risk of violence, exploitation, abuse, neglect, and death from severe acute malnutrition as result of famine currently affecting more than 5.8 million in South Sudan as well as the food crisis in Somalia, causing 6.2 million more to be food insecure. This food crisis may extend to Ethiopia and Kenya, putting an additional 8.3 million people at risk. There is urgent need to ensure children’s specific needs are taken into account with both stand-alone actions and enhanced mainstreaming and integration efforts.
Existing vulnerabilities of children and families are exacerbated in famine, particularly in conflict-affected countries. Children’s rights and wellbeing are often disastrously affected when families are forced to make difficult decisions about survival. Children drop out of school to search for food, may be forced into marriages or hazardous child labour, face increased levels of physical and sexual abuse and a greater likelihood of abduction and trafficking, or are left behind or alone by parents who are searching for food.
Reports from Kenya, for example, highlight increasing protection concerns for vulnerable and affected children, including children from pastoral communities, those in urban settlements and spontaneous sites, as well as school dropout children. During the drought season, there is a heightened risk of family separation, child marriage, child labor and physical and sexual violence against vulnerable women and children who walk long distances in search of water and livelihood. Furthermore, an increase in the number of children living in the streets in arid and semi-arid counties has been observed. Overall in the Horn of Africa, high levels of mobility are being observed with large numbers of women and children concentrating around water points.
One of the major challenges is limited funding for the child protection response. Ethiopia’s child protection response, for instance, is less than 10% funded. This is representing a serious constraint and hampers rapid and efficient prevention and response to violence, exploitation and abuse against children. Another constraint remains limited access due to conflict and insecurity but also geographical reasons, in particular in South Sudan and Somalia.
In view of the intensifying humanitarian situation, the CP AoR is exchanging with coordinators, child protection organizations at global level and other global level Clusters to identify areas of collaboration in assessments, response and advocacy. Child Fund, IOM, IRC, Plan International, Save the Children, The Alliance, UNHCR, and World Vision all shared updates on their response plans and decided to jointly advocate for attention to child protection, child protection mainstreaming in other sectors and increased funding for this response.
While time is running out for more than a million children, many lives can be saved and children protected from violence, exploitation, abuse and neglect.