Ireland contributes 2 million euros to safeguard access to reproductive health and protection services in drought-affected Horn of Africa

19 Dec 2022

Women are provided with dignity kits by UNFPA in Ceel Jale 1, Kismayo, an IDP camp in Somalia. New Irish funding will help scale up the drought response in the Horn of Africa. © UNFPA Somalia

UNITED Nations, New York - The government of Ireland is allocating 2 million euros to strengthen the humanitarian response to protect women and girls in the drought-stricken Horn of Africa. 

The funding is supporting UNFPA, the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency, to scale up life-saving sexual and reproductive health and gender-based violence protection services in the three countries affected by the drought – Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia. The contribution is directed through the Humanitarian Thematic Fund, a flexible, multi-year fund that allows UNFPA to swiftly act and respond to emergencies.

The Horn of Africa is experiencing its most severe and longest drought crisis in four decades. An estimated 36 million people have been affected by multiple and severe food security challenges, including 24.1 million people in Ethiopia, 7.8 million in Somalia, and 4.35 million in Kenya. 

Women and girls are bearing the brunt of the unfolding catastrophe in the Horn of Africa. In the areas affected by the drought, over 9 million are women and girls of reproductive age, and face particular dangers and risks of gender-based violence. Pregnant and lactating women are affected by malnutrition and risk severe pregnancy complications, if not fatal.

With the Irish funding, UNFPA and its partners are working to scale up the delivery of life-saving reproductive health and protection services for women and girls amidst the drought. These include establishing mobile and static health clinics to take reproductive health services to women and girls, increasing community outreach for the provision of reproductive health services, and deploying trained midwives to static and mobile clinics in areas where women’s and girls’ needs are greatest. Life-saving reproductive health medicines and supplies will be distributed to health facilities and hospitals. 

To help safeguard and protect women and girls from gender-based violence, UNFPA is expanding access to safe spaces, shelters and one-stop centres and hotlines to enable women and girl survivors of gender-based violence to access medical care and psychosocial support. 

"At a time when the Horn of Africa is experiencing its worst drought, we cannot overlook the unique needs of women and girls. We must ensure that women and girls are safe and have the services they need during this emergency and beyond," said Niyi Ojuolape, UNFPA Representative for Somalia. "The new contribution from the Irish government will help UNFPA to provide essential services to women and girls affected by the drought."

UNFPA is appealing for $113.7 million for its Response Plan for the Horn of Africa Drought Crisis 2022-2023 to respond to women’s and girls’ escalating needs. Ireland is the first country to make a flexible contribution to the appeal, supporting UNFPA to respond to  immediate needs of women and girls in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

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