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Map of Southern Africa El Niño/La Niña criris affected countries
UNICEF photo: A girl holds a baby, both looking at camera © UNICEF/UN023868/Clark Two sisters in Cahama, Cunene Province in 2016, an area of Angola that has been particularly hard hit by the recurrent cycles of droughts and flooding that characterize El Niño. The baby has been identified as at risk of malnutrition.

Southern Africa El Niño/La Niña

In 2017, UNICEF and partners plan for:
198,457

children aged 6 to 59 months treated for SAM

1,292,040

people reached with clean water (7.5–15 litres per person per day) for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene

415,500

people reached with information on prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS and/or retained on HIV treatment

2017 Requirements: US$103,245,000

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Snapshot

Total people in need: 16.1 million
Total children (<18) in need: 5.2 million

Total people to be reached in 2017: 7.2 million
Total children to be reached in 2017: 3.8 million1

The 2015–2016 El Niño phenomenon resulted in the worst drought in 35 years for much of southern Africa. For millions of people across the sub-region, particularly children, the impact on food security has been catastrophic. In the eight most-affected countries (Angola, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe), an estimated 16.1 million people will require assistance between December 2016 and March 2017, including some 5 million children who will require urgent humanitarian assistance.2 In addition, more than 4 million children need support to remain in school.3 In 2017, more than 207,757 children under 5 will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) across southern Africa.4 The region is also experiencing wider humanitarian needs due to water scarcity, poor hygiene, frequent child illnesses, reduced access to HIV prevention and treatment services, low school attendance, increased risk-taking behaviour among adolescents and the departure of primary caregivers, including breastfeeding mothers, from the home in search of water. These issues continue to aggravate the situation of children in most countries in southern Africa. The drought is overwhelming national response capacities and has compounded existing vulnerabilities. The impact of the higher than average La Niña rains may lead to displacement, infrastructure damage and cholera and other disease outbreaks in some countries.

Humanitarian strategy

2017 programme targets

Angola

  • 48,700 children aged 6 to 59 months treated for SAM
  • 100,000 people reached with clean water (7.5–15 litres per person per day) for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene

Lesotho

  • 17,000 people reached with clean water (7.5–15 litres per person per day) for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • 310,000 people reached with information on prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS

Madagascar

  • 35,000 children aged 6 to 59 months treated for SAM
  • 850,000 people reached with clean water (7.5–15 litres per person per day) for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene

Malawi

  • 64,826 children aged 6 to 59 months treated for SAM
  • 214,200 children aged 6 to 59 months immunized against measles

Mozambique

  • 34,000 children aged 6 to 59 months treated for SAM
  • 145,040 people reached with clean water (7.5–15 litres per person per day) for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene

Namibia

  • 180,000 additional children have access to water (7.5–15 litres per person per day) for drinking, cooking and personal hygiene
  • 6,800 children aged 6 to 59 months treated for SAM or moderate acute malnutrition

Swaziland

  • 1,058 children aged 6 to 59 treated for SAM
  • 50,000 people reached with information on prevention, care and treatment of HIV/AIDS

Zimbabwe

  • 14,873 children aged 6 to 59 months treated for SAM
  • 55,500 children, adolescents, pregnant and lactating mothers retained on HIV treatment

UNICEF will continue the response to the drought in southern Africa by supporting government-led responses to provide life-saving services and support to address the needs of the most-affected populations. UNICEF’s strategy will be delivered through sectoral responses in health, nutrition, child protection, education, HIV/AIDS, social protection and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), supported by various communication and community engagement strategies. In preparation for the La Niña rains, UNICEF will enhance inter-agency emergency preparedness planning, including pre-positioning relief supplies in flood-prone zones and capacity building for governments and partners to strengthen flood response mechanisms. Ongoing dialogue and planning with at-risk communities will strengthen preparedness actions at the household level. By applying a risk-informed lens to programming, UNICEF will prioritize recovery actions and interventions to help break the cycle of recurrent droughts in southern Africa. UNICEF will promote inter-agency implementation of resilience-building actions aligned with the UNICEF Regional Office strategy for resilient development and the Regional Interagency Standing Committee for Southern Africa Plan of Action. Risk analysis, assessments, monitoring, reporting and strengthening of coordination mechanisms will also be key elements of UNICEF’s 2017 humanitarian strategy in southern Africa.

Results from 2016

As of 31 October 2016, UNICEF had received US$27.7 million against the seven country-specific appeals totalling US$111.7 million (25 per cent funded).5 Despite limited resources, UNICEF was able to scale up its response to the El Niño drought. Since January 2016, UNICEF has delivered life-saving assistance to populations affected by drought, food insecurity and diarrhoeal disease outbreaks, including cholera. UNICEF supported more than 542,545 people with access to safe water through borehole drilling, rehabilitation of piped water schemes and hygiene promotion interventions, including in health centres and schools. Through multi-country community management of acute malnutrition, UNICEF distributed ready-to-use therapeutic foods that treated 83,995 children with SAM, reaching 45 per cent of the 184,896 target, largely due to delayed funding for scale up. UNICEF also supported more than 396,005 women and children affected by the El Niño crisis to access health care services. There remains a growing gap between needs and assistance levels due to limited resources. For example, in Madagascar, UNICEF provided safe water to more than 204,520 people in 2016 but more than half a million people are still in need. Failure to further scale up the humanitarian response in these countries will have detrimental consequences for millions of children.

Funding requirements

In line with the Regional Inter-Agency Standing Committee (RIASCO) action plan,6 UNICEF is requesting US$103,245,000 to meet the humanitarian needs of children in the most-affected countries in southern Africa. Without additional funding, UNICEF will be unable to support the multi-sectoral response that includes HIV and AIDS, nutrition, child protection, education, social protection and WASH. Concerted efforts are required to minimize the continuing impact of the El Niño crisis (and the likelihood of enhanced La Niña rains), through multi-sectoral interventions to provide urgent assistance to communities and implement effective recovery strategies that contribute to building resilience among the most vulnerable.

_________________________
1 Based on United Nations Children’s Fund country office response plans for 2017, whose targeted populations are shown below:

Total people to be
reached in 2017
Total children to be
reached in 2017
Angola 1,412,000 780,000
Lesotho 130,000 78,888
Madagascar 950,000 446,500
Malawi 2,500,000
1,105,000
Mozambique 309,249
170,817
Namibia 400,000
180,000
Swaziland 175,000
74,000
Zimbabwe 1,702,000
1,021,200
Total 7,269,000 3,856,405

2 Regional Inter-Agency Standing Committee, ‘RIASCO Action Plan for Southern Africa: Revised regional response plan for the El Niño-induced drought in southern Africa’, December 2016-April 2017, http://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/riasco_action_plan_dec2016.pdf, accessed 29 December 2016.
3 Ibid.
4 Angola (48,700 children); Lesotho (2,500 children); Madagascar (35,000 children); Malawi (34,000 children); Mozambique (64,826 children); Namibia (6,800 children); Swaziland (1,058 children); and Zimbabwe (14,873 children).
5 Available funds included funding received against the current country appeals and funds carried forward from the previous years as follows: Angola (US$4.1 million); Lesotho (US$3.8 million); Madagascar (US$6.3 million); Malawi (US$5.5 million); Mozambique (US$3 million); Swaziland (US$1.2 million); and Zimbabwe (US$3.8 million).
6 RIASCO action plan runs through March 2017 and additional needs are as per the UNICEF country office emergency response plans running through December 2017. Swaziland (https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/system/files/documents/files/swaziland_hrp_16dec2016.pdf) and Zimbabwe (https://www.humanitarianresponse.info/system/files/documents/files/zimbabwe_hrp_final_20sept2016.pdf) also have inter-agency humanitarian response plans running through March 2017.