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 have tightened border controls and imposed restrictions on freedom of movement and other aspects, which further affected the livelihoods of the most vulnerable populations.
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.
Following extended periods of socio-economic hardship, COVID-19 has 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 784,000 people are estimated to be 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 and a lack of essential food staples in the market, have resulted in a deteriorating food security situation.
There are currently 1.6 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 €38 million in support of 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, (iii) access to health care, (iv) education in emergencies, (v) water and sanitation, and (vi) disaster preparedness.
Through its humanitarian aid, the EU prioritises, to the extent possible, the swift provision of aid in the form of emergency cash transfers to vulnerable people affected by disasters. This saves people from having to sell their possessions when food runs out.
In response to an ongoing current drought, the EU is helping address food and nutrition needs in the affected areas as well as helping small-scale farmers restore their means to earn a living.
The security situation is volatile in the Cabo Delgado province. The EU is providing shelter, food assistance, water and sanitation, protection, and access to health care and education to those affected by the conflict in the province – including those internally displaced and their host communities.
The food and nutrition situation remains critical in Madagascar, especially in the Grand Sud. The EU is providing food and nutrition, while integrating protection actions to the worst affected districts. The link between short-term and long-term interventions are strengthened, to build the resilience of the people affected by the crisis to recurrent climate shocks.
The EU has also allocated funding to support the fight against COVID-19, in line with the respective countries’ national response plans. With this support, our partners in the region are including (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.
In addition, the European Commission is providing €100 million in humanitarian assistance to support the rollout of vaccination campaigns in countries in Africa with critical humanitarian needs and fragile health systems. €8.9 million out of this funding will be supporting vaccination campaigns for the most vulnerable in the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region.
Preparedness and prompt action can reduce the impact of natural hazards and help prevent loss of life, livelihoods and property. To this end, the EU supports actions that improve the capacity of communities and local and national disaster management authorities to prepare for and respond to disasters.
Several EU-funded projects use technology and innovative approaches, such as drones – used in the response to cyclones in Mozambique and Malawi - to map high-risk areas, or mobile text messages to warn communities of impending dangers, and enabling communities to contact their disaster management authorities.
Attention is increasingly given to disaster preparedness in schools, through the promotion of safe learning facilities, training of teachers in early warning and teaching children how to stay safe. Having emergency stocks already present on the ground also facilitates and speeds up the response to rapid-onset natural hazards.
The EU also supports actions to ensure education continuation in humanitarian crises, for instance by ensuring safe learning spaces and providing adequate education programmes for children in areas affected by violence and displacement.
Last updated: 20/05/2022
Picture: © European Union, 2019 (photographer: Anouk Delafortrie)
Facts & figures
Over 16 million people are food insecure
COVID-19 continues to impact the entire region
More than 784,000 internally displaced people in Mozambique
Over 520,000 refugees in the region
EU humanitarian funding:
€38 million in 2022
More than €336 million since 2014