Famine in Africa and in Yemen

A young mother cradles her malnourished child outside a UNICEF-supported stabilization centre in Malualkon, Aweil, South Sudan.
A young mother cradles her malnourished child outside a UNICEF-supported stabilization centre in Malualkon, Aweil, South Sudan. © UNICEF - Knowles Coursin

South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen have been facing famine conditions since February 2017. A total of 20 million people are threatened by food insecurity brought on by armed conflicts and the climatic impacts of El Niño. The SDC, which already operates in these four countries, has released additional funding to deliver emergency aid and to expand its development assistance activities.

The situation is especially serious in South Sudan where almost five million people are already facing hunger. In Nigeria too, over five million people have no food security and suffer from malnutrition. In 2015 and 2016, the Horn of Africa was hit by a major drought which was exacerbated by El Niño, causing serious crop failures and livestock losses. Since then, more than 11 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are suffering from serious malnutrition.

Consolidation of current activities

Switzerland responds to provide aid for people suffering from famine. On 24 February 2017, Swiss Humanitarian Aid made an additional CHF 15 million available from its reserves for humanitarian emergencies to help countries severely affected or threatened by famine. This new contribution is in addition to the SDC’s current activities [in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen]. It has also carried out and supported various projects in these regions for a number of years, in particular aimed at fighting food insecurity, improving means of subsistence, access to water and sanitation and protecting civilians. Experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) are also deployed in the field on behalf of the UN agencies and the SDC.

In anticipation of this looming catastrophe, the SDC regularly stepped up its efforts in the above-mentioned countries and provided a budget of CHF 48 million at the beginning of the year. The new funding therefore takes its contribution to humanitarian operations and development cooperation activities in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen to CHF 63 million in 2017. Switzerland also contributed CHF 5 million to the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) for 2017 to enable it to fund emergency action in these countries.

Support for the World Food Programme’s operations

The central partner of Swiss Humanitarian Aid in the global fight against hunger is the World Food Programme (WFP), to which it gave CHF 69 million in 2016, its biggest contribution to any UN humanitarian organisation. Switzerland is not only a major donor to the WFP but also an important partner in the secondment of experts.

Swiss Humanitarian Aid regularly seconds members of the SHA to the WFP. In addition to its financial commitments, Switzerland is active in coordinating donors in the field. As a member of the humanitarian teams for these countries and as chair of the donor coordination groups in Somalia, Switzerland is involved in ensuring the efficient use of resources, crisis-response coordination and other activities.