NAIROBI, 9 September 2011 - As a new academic term began this week in countries affected by the on-going drought in the Horn of Africa, UNICEF is accelerating efforts to help children fully benefit from education.
“In addition to providing children with a basic education, schools and children’s centres also play an important role in delivering life-saving messages on nutrition, hygiene, sanitation, and health education - all of which are essential in the Horn of Africa today,” said UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa Elhadj As Sy.
“In camps for refugees and displaced persons especially, schools become accessible to girls and other vulnerable children who may have never stepped inside a classroom before,” added Mr. Sy. “In affected communities, places of learning also ensure access to clean water, sanitation, and feeding programmes and provide a safe space for children to protect them from violence and exploitative practices.”
“These are the opportunities that we must maximise as we continue our focus on health, nutrition and other urgent priorities.”
Already ahead of the new term, key support to the education system has been provided in the countries affected by the crisis:
The current drought in the Horn of Africa has posed significant challenges to education services in all affected countries.
In central and south Somalia, an estimated 1.8 million children are out of school because of internal displacement and insecurity, while in drought-affected areas of Kenya, where many refugees have sought aid, communities are under pressure to accommodate new students – more than one in four schools in these areas are struggling to absorb the increased number of students now seeking education.
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Michael Klaus, UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office
+254 (0)716 431 880,
Denise Shepherd-Johnson, UNICEF Somalia,
+254 (0) 722 719 867,
Edita Nsubuga, UNICEF Kenya,
+254 (0)733 600 221,
Alexandra Westerbeek, UNICEF Ethiopia,
+251 (0)911 255 109,
Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York,
Tel + 1 212 326 7426,
Crisis in the Horn of Africa
In Kenya, school offers meals and shelter