Embarking on a three-country visit to East Africa, starting in Kenya yesterday, he said the package will provide vital assistance to almost a million people in Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia who are facing the worst drought in decades, and in South Sudan after widespread flooding for the third year in a row.
Extreme weather events associated with climate change are worsening pre-existing drought and flood cycles and ruining harvests. Poor governance and ongoing conflicts in Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia are exacerbating the impact of these events by displacing vulnerable communities, destroying livelihoods and limiting access to humanitarian assistance, donor agencies affirm.
Minister Ford said that for countries in East Africa, climate change is not a future problem – it is driving a humanitarian emergency right now.
Catastrophic droughts and floods, paired with ongoing conflicts and poor governance create a perfect storm in East Africa which risks pushing hundreds of thousands of people into famine, she stated
“The UK’s commitment to supporting our partners in East Africa is unwavering and we know that early action now can prevent mass loss of life. This funding package will provide vital assistance to almost a million people across the region, helping those affected to access clean water and healthy food,” she declared.
The UK is moving quickly to provide support as experience has shown that early, preventative action is vital to avoiding mass loss of life, she further observed.
In Somalia, approximately half the population requires life-saving aid due to the ongoing drought, which experts say is on a similar scale as in 2011 where it led to 260,000 deaths. In Kenya the number of people in dire need of food has risen to close to three million, existing data shows.
More than 6.4m people are estimated to require food assistance this year in drought-affected regions of Ethiopia. In South Sudan, extreme flooding paired with ongoing violence has affected 835,000 people, pushing more than 350,000 people from their homes.
The funding is expected to support almost 500,000 people in Somalia to access clean water and afford food supplies, as well as providing 100,000 people in South Sudan and 26,000 children in Kenya with a combination of food assistance, water and hygiene supplies, she elaborated.
The UK prioritised supporting communities affected by extreme weather events such as droughts as host of COP26 in Glasgow. As part of the historic agreement reached at the summit, wealthy nations committed to double the overall climate finance available for adaptation programmes.
The UK also announced the ‘Room to Run’ guarantee with the African Development Bank, expected to unlock up to $1bn worth of new financing for projects which will help countries adapt to the impacts of climate change.
The UK is a long-standing supporter of Africa’s adaptation to climate change, with around half of the UK’s £2.7bn adaptation budget between 2016 and 2020 directed to Africa.