The UK’s minister for Africa, Vicky Ford, announced a $10 million package of UK aid for Somalis devastated by droughts during a three-country East Africa visit on 17 January. Approximately 500 000 Somalis will be helped from the funding, which will provide access to safe drinking water and food.
“Climate change is pushing extreme weather events across the country, intensifying preexisting droughts, while the lack of action from Somalian government and recurrent wars are displacing vulnerable populations and destroying livelihoods,” Ford stated.
During another drought in the country, which spanned across 2016 and 2017, 1.4 million children needed aid for malnutrition, according to the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF).
Ford also stressed that early effort and finance supported by the UK narrowly avoided starvation, and that his type of early preventative action is critical for Somalia. She remarked that the situation in East Africa is extremely worrisome, with millions of people in Somalia in dire need of food and clean water.
In a press release by the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office, Ford further went on to say that droughts and floods, along with continuous wars and bad governance in Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia, are combining factors that can create a “perfect storm”.
Conflicts taking its toll
In relation to the conflicts, a good example is El-Shabaab as a factor in obstructing the aid efforts by depriving Somalis of access to humanitarian aid. This has worsened the situation for drought-affected people, resulting in hundreds of thousands of people suffering from hunger. According to a report by Crisis Aid, a total 2.6 million people have fled their homes due to conflicts.
“So far, the UK has provided £32 million in humanitarian funding this year, reaching over 1 million people with a combination of emergency and longer-term assistance,” stated Ford in an article by Foreign,Commonwealth & Development Office.
Kate Foster, the British ambassador to Somalia, also said that the UK is acting as quickly as possible to aid help because past experience has shown that early, preventative action is critical to avoiding mass casualties.
“So far this year, the UK has donated £32 million in humanitarian financing, reaching over 1 million people (about the population of Delaware, USA) through a combination of emergency and long-term assistance,” she said.
Investing in climate change
The United Kingdom has long supported Africa’s adaptation to climate change, with over half of the UK’s £2.7 billion adaptation fund invested in Africa between 2016 and 2020.
In 2021 the United Kingdom funded several organisations such as the Africa Adaptation Acceleration Program (AAAP) that received £20 million; £42 million was allocated to the Africa Regional Climate and Nature Program (ARCAN); and at least £22 million of premium financing support to help African countries pay for drought insurance; the Shock Response Program in the Sahel received £19.5 million.
The World Bank also received £40 million to the Climate Adaptation and Resilience Research Program (CLARE) to support action-focused research to inform development in a changing climate in Africa.