European Union provides new funding to address Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in East Africa

Three-year joint programme will allocate 48 million Euros and reach 30 million women and children at risk.

07 October 2021

NAIROBI/BRUSSELS, 7 OCTOBER 2021 – UNICEF has received a new grant from the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) to help in the fight against Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in East Africa. The three-year joint programme (16 million Euro for the first year, in 2021) aims at increasing coverage and sustainability for treating Severe Acute Malnutrition in Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan, while contributing to moving forward on nutrition solutions more globally. 

In the last two decades, these three countries have witnessed repeated droughts, floods, and outbreaks of diseases, which have jeopardized the capacity of communities to cope. These factors have also increased Severe Acute Malnutrition in children. 

In addition, in the last two years, there has been a rise in political instability in Ethiopia and Somalia, while the situation remains fragile in South Sudan. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused further disruption, and its impact has gone beyond the health of individual patients to affect the livelihoods of millions of people.

“The European Union places great value on this new kind of partnership with UNICEF,” said Segolene de Beco, the Head of the European Union’s Humanitarian Aid Regional Office in Nairobi. “Through this 3-year project, we are keen to ensure that together we increase the scale, efficiency and effectiveness of our response to malnutrition in East Africa and to ensure that the gains we make through this project are sustained for longer.”

The new grant from the EU is aimed at:

  • treating SAM through strengthened UNICEF stocks of therapeutic foods and increased delivery; 
  • supporting nutrition surveillance and monitoring of children’s nutritional status; and 
  • strengthening of national coordination and planning for a coherent and fit-for-purpose response to child malnutrition in the three targeted countries.

“Investment in nutrition services in East Africa is greatly needed and we welcome again the EU’s contribution and commitment to children in the region,” said Mohamed M. Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa. “We need all the support we can get so together we can reach every child in need,” he added. 

The EU grant will go a long way in supporting UNICEF to reach 3.1 million severely malnourished children in Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan, while building the capacity of systems to better withstand future crises. In addition, the multi-year financing model will allow for better planning and monitoring to achieve sustainability. It will also accelerate scaling up simplified approaches for early detection and treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition. 

At present, around 22.1 million people are in need of food and nutrition assistance across Eastern and Southern Africa. 

Media contacts

Malene Kamp Jensen
Regional Chief of Communications
UNICEF Eastern and Southern Africa
Tel: +254-(0)797048529
Mathias Eick
EU Humanitarian Aid Regional Information Officer
European Commission - European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
Tel: +254 722 791 604


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