CERF helped people through the climate emergency in East Africa

Nurse Ahmed measures baby Zahara's arm circumference at the mobile clinic. Photo: WHO

Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia | 2023 | CERF

Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. In early 2023, the Horn of Africa faced the lasting effects of a historic drought, following an unprecedented five consecutive poor rainy seasons.

 Some 31.9 million people needed assistance across Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya.

Among them were Temira, Darmi, and Rasuliyan.

Temira took her young daughter Zahara to a mobile health clinic near her home in Chifra, Afar, in north-eastern Ethiopia, for vaccinations and a check-up. The drought in the area was driving malnutrition and disease, and she was worried about her daughter. At the time, 11 million people faced severe food insecurity.

Meanwhile, in Kenya, Darmi and her family of eight found themselves struggling to survive after the prolonged drought killed most of their animals, leaving them with only four goats.

While in Somalia, Rasuliyan and her two young children managed to survive drought and major flash floods – only to face dangerous malnutrition.

These are some of the many lives affected by climate change in the region.

CERF was on the frontlines of emergency response to climate-related needs in 2023, helping Temira, Darmi, Rasuylan and others to get through the worst.

Health care in drought-affected Ethiopia.

Mobile health and nutrition teams were able to reach some of the most remote areas, with support from World Health Organization (WHO) and funding from CERF, the Ethiopia Humanitarian Fund, and USAID.

Together, they saved lives.

When Temira took her child to the mobile clinic, she was able to get Zahara checked and assessed for malnutrition.

Every week, as part of their outreach efforts, Doctor Ahmed and his colleagues checked between 100 and 120 children. “Most of the children we treat here come with malnutrition, diarrhoea or malaria,” he says.

Zahara was healthy, and Temira was happy that she did not have to travel far to seek health services. “This clinic is located near my home, so I can easily bring Zahara here,” she says. “And when I am not feeling well, I also get health services here.”

Cash assistance in Kenya helps a family rebuild

Darmi described life before the drought, a time of abundance when the family owned 115 cattle and 50 goats.

By last June, the drought situation was dire. Some 4.4 million people needed assistance. CERF funding supported cash assistance, health care, and other emergency activities for the most vulnerable people.

By that time, Darmi had only four goats left. The animals served not only as a source of wealth but also as a way to meet the family’s basic needs. After these devastating losses, they struggled to survive.

In Darmi’s village, a multi-purpose cash assistance programme, funded by United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), worked with IOM and Kenyan organization Strategies for Northern Development.

They offered a much-needed lifeline for families like Darmi’s. Darmi received 9,064 Kenyan shillings (approximately USD 68), which made a difference.

“Before the cash, we could barely afford food, but now I can comfortably say my children are getting two solid meals a day,” she explained.

“I will use some of the cash to buy and raise some chickens,” she added, hoping to sell eggs and meat to support the family further through the difficult time.

Emergency response to flood-and-drought driven malnutrition in Somalia

In Somalia, major floods in November 2023 damaged infrastructure and affected the livelihoods and health of over 1.17 million people across Jubaland and Hirshabelle states, including Rasulyan and her kids.

“The floods swept away everything we had,” explained Rasuliyan. Lacking a regular income and food, her children were suffering from malnutrition.

On 6 November, the ERC agreed to a $10m CERF allocation. Thanks to preparatory work by OCHA Somalia, partners, and the CERF Secretariat in view of seasonal forecasts, CERF was able to approve all projects under this allocation within 24 hours.

With CERF support, WHO helped federal and state ministries of health to boost their efforts to meet the growing needs of over 500 000 displaced people. including Rasulyan and her children.

WHO deployed over 25 outreach teams – comprising 100 health workers in total: nurses, clinicians, social workers and nutrition screeners – as well as community health workers.

They were able to identify Rasuliyan’s children as at risk and refer them for treatment.

“My two children have survived not only droughts and floods but are now recovering at the Kismayo General Hospital,” said Rasuliyan.

And with CERF funding, WHO supported 64 stabilization centers across the country. 

CERF is a leader in emergency climate response

The Central Emergency Response Fund has consistently demonstrated its effectiveness in delivering help where people most need it.

Since its inception, CERF has allocated US $2.3 billion to respond to climate disasters worldwide and has disbursed $90 million for anticipatory action support since 2020.

Adapted from stories from the World Health Organization; IOM; and World Health Organization Somalia

More information on recent CERF allocations in:

Ethiopia (drought in 2023)

Kenya (drought in 2023)

Somalia (floods in 2023)

More information on the new CERF Climate Action Account