Climatic shocks and recurrent natural hazards, on top of economic and political challenges, crop pests and diseases, and conflict, continue to affect millions of people in the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.
Because of prolonged drought and failed harvests, extensive areas are facing severe food shortages. To tackle COVID-19, several governments tightened border controls and imposed restrictions on freedom of movement and other aspects, which further affected the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations.
Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is putting additional pressure on an already fragile situation. Some 80% of the countries in the region are highly dependent on imports from Russia and Ukraine.
What are the needs?
Extreme weather events are a regular occurrence in the region. They are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change. The region is warming at about twice the global rate and has been buffeted by multiple and compounding shocks, such as recurrent tropical storms/cyclones, droughts, floods, and erratic rains.
Persistent dry conditions have undermined food security and livelihoods. Almost 30 million people are expected or are already experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity in 2022/2023.
The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warned that between October 2022 - January 2023, Madagascar, Malawi and Zimbabwe will be hotspots of high concern.
Following extended periods of socio-economic hardship, COVID-19 changed the face of hunger, increasing urban unemployment and greatly reducing vital remittances. Depressed commodity prices and earnings have tightened budgets, undermining the ability of governments to respond to the growing needs.
Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province was affected by a dramatic escalation of violence in 2020. Armed groups attacked villages and civilians, causing death and displacement, and exacerbating the humanitarian situation.
It is estimated that over 946,000 people are internally displaced in Cabo Delgado and neighbouring provinces. In addition, over 1.5 million require urgent humanitarian assistance and protection in 2022.
In Madagascar, drought, low agricultural productivity, the impact of COVID-19 mitigating measures, and a lack of essential food staples in the market have resulted in a deteriorating food security situation.
There are currently 1.9 million people facing high levels of food insecurity in Madagascar. With one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world, more than half of all children in the country suffer from chronic malnutrition.
How are we helping?
In 2022, the EU allocated €67.4 million to support humanitarian actions.
EU humanitarian funding in the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region provides emergency relief response such as (i) food/nutrition assistance, (ii) protection services, (iii) access to health care, (iv) education in emergencies, (v) water and sanitation, and (vi) disaster preparedness.
As part of the overall budget, the EU has allocated €16.5 million to address food insecurity and increasing costs of logistics. The aim is to mitigate the negative impact of the Russia’ war of aggression against Ukraine on the price and availability of food, fuel, fertilisers, and other commodities in Madagascar, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe.
The EU supports actions to ensure education continuation in humanitarian crises. EU humanitarian funding ensures safe learning spaces and provides adequate education programmes for children in areas affected by violence and displacement.
We also prioritise, to the extent possible, the swift provision of aid through emergency cash transfers to vulnerable people affected by disasters. This saves people from having to sell their possessions when food runs out.
In northern Mozambique, the security situation is volatile. The EU is providing shelter, food and nutrition assistance, water and sanitation, protection and logistics services, as well as access to health care and education to those affected by the armed violence in Cabo Delgado. This includes assistance to those in neighbouring provinces, including internally displaced persons and their host communities.
In Madagascar, the food and nutrition situation remains critical, especially in the Grand Sud and Grand Sud-Est. The EU is providing food and nutrition while integrating protection services to the worst affected districts. The link between short-term and long-term interventions is being reinforced to build resilience to recurrent climate shocks.
Preparedness and prompt action can reduce the impact of natural hazards and help prevent loss of life, livelihoods and property. The EU supports actions that improve the capacity of communities as well as local and national disaster management authorities to prepare for and respond to disasters.
Attention is increasingly given to disaster preparedness in schools through promoting safe learning facilities, training teachers in early warning, and teaching children how to stay safe. Having emergency stocks on the ground also facilitates and speeds up the response to rapid-onset natural hazards.
Several EU-funded projects use technology and innovative approaches. For example, in response to the 2021/2022 cyclones in Mozambique and Malawi, we used drones to map high-risk areas. In addition, mobile text messages warned communities of impending hazards and enabled communities to contact their disaster management authorities.
In addition, the European Commission provided €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems.
Of this funding, €8.9 million will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.
With this support, our partners are implementing (i) COVID-19 prevention and control activities, (ii) information dissemination campaigns, (iii) distribution of personal protection equipment, (iv) promotion of access to water and hygiene, and (iv) hygiene-awareness sessions for households.
Last updated: 12/01/2023
Facts & figures
Nearly 30 million people are experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity.
More than 946,000 internally displaced people in Mozambique.
Over 522,000 refugees in the region.
EU humanitarian funding:
€67.4 million in 2022
More than €364.5 million since 2014