Keeping students in school in drought-affected Ethiopia and Somalia

GPE is working with governments and development partners to help respond to the humanitarian catastrophe in the Horn of Africa and keep children in school and learning.

September 16, 2022 by GPE Secretariat
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4 minutes read
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A boy drinks water at the Qansaxleey Primary and Secondary school playground in Dolow, Somalia. February 05, 2022. Credit: UNICEF/UN0591240/Taxta
A boy drinks water at the Qansaxleey Primary and Secondary school playground in Dolow, Somalia. February 05, 2022.

As livelihoods across the Horn of Africa are disrupted by the worst drought in 70 years, the education sector is struggling to keep children in school and learning. The drought has led to extreme levels of food insecurity, and many students have either been forced to leave school or are at risk of dropping out to support their families to get food and water.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), at least 36.1 million people have now been affected by the drought that began in October 2020.

In July 2022, UNICEF issued a regional call to action, appealing for US$986 million to provide urgent life-saving and climate resilience support to 4.2 million people, half of them children in need of treatment for severe acute malnutrition, in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Djibouti.

GPE is working closely with governments and development partners to help respond to the humanitarian catastrophe.

GPE support in Ethiopia

In Ethiopia, about 9.9 million people are severely food insecure due to the drought, 3.5 million livestock have died, and millions of children are acutely malnourished, resulting in lower learning and an increasing number of out-of-school children. UNICEF estimates that at least 500,000 children have dropped out of school due to drought.

Thanks to a GPE $20 million accelerated grant, with Save the Children as grant agent, more than 220,000 disadvantaged children in 13 of Ethiopia’s hardest hit districts are benefitting from school feeding programs, water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, and training for teachers and communities, among other activities.

Ethiopia is submitting a request to GPE for a new accelerated grant of $10 million to continue school feeding and other interventions of the current program, which comes to a close at the end of September 2022.

This funding is in addition to other GPE grants: a $125 million grant that contributes to Ethiopia's General Education Quality Improvement Program for Equity (GEQIP-E); a $15 million COVID-19 grant supporting the Ministry of Education's response plan; and a $20 million Multiplier grant supporting the GEQIP-E program as additional financing for schools in regions serving refugee populations – all of which have the World Bank as grant agent.

The Multiplier leveraged co-financing from IDA ($55 million) and the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs ($5 million).

The dire humanitarian situation caused by the drought is exacerbated by the devasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as conflict in Tigray and other regions.

GPE stands by the children of Ethiopia as education stakeholders work in partnership to address the complex challenges to keeping children in school and learning.

A student in front of the blackboard at the Felege Abay Elementary School, Bahar Dar, Ethiopia. Credit: GPE/Carolina Valenzuela
A student in front of the blackboard at the Felege Abay Elementary School, Bahar Dar, Ethiopia.
Credit:
GPE/Carolina Valenzuela

GPE support in Somalia

In Somalia, according to UNOCHA, famine will occur between October and December if we don’t act now. 7.1 million people are now acutely food insecure, over 3 million livestock have died, and 386,400 children are likely to be severely malnourished.

CARE, one of GPE’s grant agents in Somalia, reports that 420,000 children are at risk of dropping out of school. Of these, 189,000 are girls who face the risk of retrogressive practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation; and 231,000 are boys at risk of being recruited into dangerous and illegal activities.

Some 730 children have been reported to have died in food and nutrition centers across Somalia between January and July this year, but the numbers could be more as many deaths go unreported, according to UNICEF.

GPE is supporting the drought response in Somalia through $19 million in accelerated funding targeting more than 130,000 children at risk of dropping out in areas severely affected by drought, resulting in acute food shortage and malnutrition and potential school closures.

GPE-supported activities include school feeding, water and sanitation facilities, and teacher training and incentives for both learners and teachers, among other interventions.

This funding complements over $85 million in GPE grants to the Federal Government of Somalia, Puntland and Somaliland for the improvement of equitable access to education and the quality of learning outcomes for all students.

The current drought is just one of the challenges confronting the education sector. Protracted emergencies over the past two decades stemming from conflict, natural disasters and the COVID-19 pandemic have had a significant impact on schooling and on the lives of children and youth.

GPE remains committed to helping the Somali authorities build strong and resilient education systems so that all girls and boys can get a quality education.

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