Map of Eastern and Southern Africa Region
UNICEF photo: a child carries a bag labelled UNICEF on her head © UNICEF/NYHQ2015-1420/Rich On 18 May 2015, a girl in South Sudan carries atop her head a bag filled with her belongings in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site for internally displaced people in Unity State.

Eastern and Southern Africa

Regional Office 2016 Requirements: US$5,591,000

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The Eastern and Southern Africa region continues to face multiple humanitarian crises, including cyclical drought and flooding, epidemics, cyclones, acute malnutrition, insecurity and conflict. The ongoing conflicts in Somalia and South Sudan and the political turmoil and violence in Burundi have affected more than 10.2 million people1 and have caused over 2 million refugees2 to seek shelter in neighbouring countries, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, the Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. As the situations in Burundi, Somalia and South Sudan remain unstable, it is expected that internal and cross-border displacement will continue in the coming months. More than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa are experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity.3 Nearly 5 million children under 5 years are facing increased vulnerability due to malnutrition and disease outbreaks.4 Ethiopia has been particularly hard hit, with 8.2 million people facing food insecurity and an estimated 350,000 children in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition (SAM).5 This situation will be made worse by the strengthening El Niño weather phenomenon, which is likely to cause drier than normal conditions in large areas of Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia. Conversely, in other parts of the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes region,6 El Niño is likely to trigger above-normal rains that could cause severe and sustained flooding, localized displacement and epidemics. Levels of food and nutrition insecurity in Southern Africa are also likely to deteriorate further with El Niño, leading to multiple failed harvests and high food prices, as well as an increased risk of water-borne diseases, including cholera.

Regional humanitarian strategy

In 2016, the Eastern and Southern Africa Regional Office (ESARO) will continue to build the capacity of UNICEF country offices and partners in the region to mainstream risk-informed programming and build the resilience of vulnerable populations, governments and other partners. This includes building capacity for emergency preparedness and response in the nutrition, education, health, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), child protection and HIV and AIDS sectors. Critical cross-sectoral priorities include social mobilization and communication with affected populations, supply and logistics, and surge capacity. Support will be provided through technical guidance, sector-specific trainings, emergency simulations, surge capacity and the development of UNICEF, government and inter-agency planning that addresses key risks using innovative preparedness and response approaches. In addition, ESARO will continue to support cluster/sector coordination and strengthen linkages with partners, particularly the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the World Food Programme (WFP). The Regional Office will also continue to support the leadership of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on resilience building through the Resilience Analysis Unit, a joint initiative with WFP, FAO, OCHA, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and other partners. The Resilience Analysis Unit aims to mitigate the impact of disasters on already vulnerable populations in the Horn of Africa. In 2016, ESARO will support emergency responses to internally displaced persons, refugees and host communities affected by the sub-regional crises in Burundi, Somalia and South Sudan. Given the heightened risks of exploitation and abuse associated with increasing levels of irregular displacement and child migration, the Regional Office will work to improve understanding of the drivers of migration, as well as appropriate child protection and sectoral interventions for prevention and response. Support for enhanced cholera prevention, preparedness and response will be pursued with partners, including Oxfam and the World Health Organization (WHO), through the Joint Southern Africa Cholera Initiative. Key priorities will include timely and quality support for outbreak response and supplementary immunization, and the development of resilient national health systems. ESARO will also undertake and disseminate analyses of the quality of care in SAM management, and of nutrition surveys in the region. Together, these findings will contribute to strengthening preparedness and response for SAM management during emergencies in 2016. The Regional Office will also implement a capacity development strategy that will help to address gaps in knowledge and skills regarding Education in Emergencies for the education cluster, as well as UNICEF, partner and Ministry of Education personnel in the region. Building on past work, the Regional Office will continue to provide technical support for the incorporation of safety, resilience and social cohesion in the education sector at local, national and regional levels. In addition, ESARO will continue to provide emergency response preparedness training and technical sector training and will support the 2016 roll out of a risk-informed programming training package that seeks to better address the humanitarian-development divide in UNICEF programming.

Results in 2015

As of 31 October 2015, UNICEF had received 44 per cent (US$7.03 million7) of the US$15.9 million 2015 appeal, in addition to US$3.9 million carried forward from 2014. Throughout 2015, the Regional Office continued to provide technical guidance to countries with high- and medium-level emergency risk. This guidance supported the development of country and inter-agency preparedness/contingency and response plans, including related to risk mapping, threat monitoring, response learning reviews, pre-positioning of supplies and surge support. In particular, ESARO supported the Level 3 response to the South Sudan crisis by providing technical capacity, surge support and strategic planning. The Regional Office also facilitated the inter-agency preparedness plan for the Burundi refugee response in 2015 and supported the development of contingency plans in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda in response to the 2015 El Niño risk of widespread drought and flooding. In support of IGAD, joint resilience analyses were undertaken for Ethiopia and Uganda and a joint work plan for the Resilience Analysis Unit was developed. Throughout 2015, the Regional Office supported the documentation, analysis, dissemination and implementation of best practices in emergency preparedness and response within the Eastern and Southern Africa region and supported all 21 country offices to complete their inputs to the UNICEF Early Warning Early Action planning platform. Together these inputs have helped country offices develop more focused and context appropriate preparedness and response plans. ESARO also provided technical support for cholera preparedness and outbreak responses in Burundi, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania and Uganda in 2015 and facilitated various emergency preparedness and response trainings, simulations and sector-specific technical trainings for over six UNICEF country offices and partner agencies in the region. To respond to the increasing number of emergencies in the region, the Regional Office deployed 281 surge missions to assist with emergency responses in Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, South Sudan and Tanzania.

Funding requirements

UNICEF is requesting US$5.59 million in 2016 to enable ESARO to continue to support countries in emergency situations through surge missions, technical support, capacity building and emergency preparedness planning and training. In addition, regional funding may be used to respond to situations elsewhere in the region that are not included in a separate chapter of Humanitarian Action for Children 2016 and may not benefit from inter-agency flash appeals to respond to small- or medium-size emergencies.

United Nations Children’s Fund, ‘Humanitarian Action for Children 2015: South Sudan’, UNICEF, 2015,, accessed 1 December 2015; United Nations Children’s Fund, ‘Humanitarian Action for Children 2015: Somalia’, UNICEF, 2015,, accessed 1 December 2015; United Nations Children’s Fund, ‘Humanitarian Action for Children 2015: Burundi’, UNICEF, 2015,, accessed 1 December 2015.
2 United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘South Sudan Situation’, UNHCR, 2015,, accessed 1 December 2015; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Burundi Situation’, UNHCR, 2015,, accessed 1 December 2015; United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, ‘Refugees in the Horn of Africa: Somali Displacement Crisis’, UNHCR, 2015,, accessed 1 December 2015.
3 European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, ‘Horn of Africa ECHO Factsheet’, ECHO, October 2015,, accessed 1 December 2015.
4 Food Security and Nutrition Working Group and United Nations Children’s Fund, December 2015.
5 United States Agency for International Development, ‘Ethiopia – Complex Emergency’, Fact Sheet No. 1, Fiscal Year 2016, USAID, 23 November 2015,, accessed 1 December 2015.
6 This will likely take place in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda
7 This includes funding for countries in the ESARO 2015 HAC (including Zimbabwe).