It’s right we should support Ukraine – but let’s not ignore the humanitarian crisis in eastern Africa
Amid the international community’s response to the war in Ukraine, the worsening humanitarian crisis in East Africa and the Horn of Africa is at risk of being forgotten.
There is growing concern about the situation in the region – particularly Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia – as communities face the worst drought in forty years. As conditions kill animals and crops, normal life has become untenable for hundreds of thousands of people, who are forced make days-long journeys on foot to makeshift settlements where aid is available – albeit sporadically.
Successive failed rainy seasons have destroyed livelihoods, affecting at least 7.2 million people in Ethiopia and devastating 70 per cent of crops in Kenya. The situation in Somalia is increasingly dire; on top of drought is the fact that Somalia imports 100% of its wheat from Ukraine and Russia, and shipments of grain have already seen cancellations. The World Food Programme is warning that 330,000 children could die from starvation by the middle of this year. This is on top of the precarious political situation that has seen ongoing conflict devastate communities and cause 2.9 million people to be displaced within the country. Despite the fact that 7.7 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance (of a 16.8m total population), the UN and other agencies are struggling to secure the funds required to help those most in need.
For Windle, our primary aim is and always has been to ensure those who have experienced some of the most difficult of circumstances, living through conflict, are able to continue to access the tools they will need to thrive in the future. We know that education is a fundamental human right, and vital tool for the creation of just and stable societies. With 46% of Somalia’s population aged under 15, we must continue to work with the international community to find ways to support them, and particularly for them to continue their education.
“We never thought we’d get an opportunity like this.”
Lamara Juliet graduated with a first-class Diploma in Primary Education. It’s thanks to support from Windle International Uganda and UNHCR that she’s been able to study at university and secure her future. But her experience as a refugee from South Sudan has meant she’s had to overcome significant challenges to get here.
“Being a refugee can be difficult, because sometimes you feel that you are an outsider in your new country. Sometimes my lectures were delivered in Luganda, a language I don’t know yet, which made understanding things harder. But where there are challenges, you have to pave your way forward.
“Graduating feels amazing; we are so grateful. Many of us didn’t think we would get this opportunity. I cried when they told me at school that I had a scholarship to go to university, and from the very first day I said I can’t let this opportunity go.
“My future plan is to inspire women and to work with a big community. I want to work towards improving my country in South Sudan for future generations.”
Books for children in Somalia sees ‘better reading culture’ in schools
Being able to pick up a book is a privilege many of us take for granted. But in the majority of the contexts Windle works, children and young people - and their schools - can’t afford enough to go around. Textbooks are fundamental not only to students’ educational outcomes, but to improving attendance and enrolment in schools.
We’re happy to report that in Somalia, we have just completed a project in five secondary schools to distribute textbooks and hire learning coaches that has directly helped 6,066 children and 120 teachers.
Thanks to funding from Didymus, Windle International Somalia has seen a significant improvement in the number of assignments being submitted on time, as students can now access reference materials. Learning coaches are reporting a better culture of reading within the schools, and there is now one textbook for every five students - whereas before the project, 75 children had to share a single book.