Education Cannot Wait Announces US$5 Million First Emergency Response Grant for Somalia Drought Response

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Children at a school in Somalia

Care International, UNICEF and local strategic partners will deliver fast-acting grant, reaching 43,000 children and adolescents. 4.2 million children are out of school in Somalia with 900,000 at risk of dropping out. ECW funding in Somalia now tops US$33 million.

New York

A devastating ongoing drought in Somalia, along with renewed conflicts over scarce resources, is putting the lives and education of millions of children at risk. In response to the crisis, the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises, Education Cannot Wait (ECW), announced today a US$5 million First Emergency Response grant, bringing total investments in Somalia to US$33 million to date.

The 12-month grant will be delivered by Care International in coordination with UNICEF and other local strategic partners. The investment will reach 43,000 children and adolescents (60% girls) who are out-of-school or at risk of dropping out as a result of the four-year drought, which has pushed 2.9 million people from their homes and raised the specter of famine for people in Somalia and across the Horn of Africa.

The drought in the Horn of Africa is considered one of the worst climate change-related disasters of the past 40 years. In Somalia, 3.1 million children and adolescents are affected by the drought, including more than 400,000 newly displaced school-aged children. The drought has triggered conflicts over access to food, water and livelihoods.

With 4.2 million children already out of school in Somalia and an additional 900,000 at risk of dropping out, girls and boys are at grave risk of gender-based violence and child marriage, hunger, malnutrition and starvation, recruitment into armed groups, child labor and other violations of their human rights.

Where schools do exist in Somalia, many are severely lacking in trained teachers, learning materials, and ongoing supports that extend from early childhood education into secondary school. Girls and children with disabilities are especially at risk. There are very few women teachers in Somalia and water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are nearly non-existent in schools. Three out of ten Somali girls will be married before their 18th birthday.

“The climate crisis is an education crisis. We must come together as a global community to ensure the girls and boys of Somalia are offered the safety, protection and opportunity that a quality education provides. In school, these children will be given the skills and supports they need to break through the chains of poverty and hunger. It’s our investment in a long-term solution to the food crisis and the climate crisis, and it’s our investment in improved economic and social security for the 10 million children in urgent need of support across the Horn of Africa,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.

The new investment builds on the impact of ECW’s US$28.2 million in funding to date in Somalia, which has reached over 170,000 children, and an additional 200,000 through the Fund’s COVID-19 response. The investment will focus on South Central Somalia, where the highest number of school-aged children affected by displacement are concentrated.

“The worsening humanitarian situation in Somalia has threatened to erode decades of progress made in the education sector. We are witnessing more and more children dropping out of school and losing out on learning as the drought worsens. Families are now making the difficult choice between sending children to school or to look for food and water. No parent deserves to be faced with such choices. CARE welcomes this grant as this will help keep the most vulnerable children in school by providing safe and inclusive learning spaces that they can learn from to realize their dreams,” said Iman Abdullahi, CARE Somalia Country Director.

With the support of ECW, UNICEF will be able to help better prepare the Somali children for their future by ensuring they get evidence-driven programming and quality education. With the Ministry of Education, the Education Cluster and partners, a far reaching and full needs assessment will be performed to guide the project,” says Wafaa Saeed, the UNICEF Somalia Representative. “We are facing what could easily become a lost generation of children as a consequence of the devastating drought and through this assessment and programming, together we will support the children with their basic right education.”

This investment focuses on expanding access to safe education by reducing the barriers that keep children out of school through both formal and non-formal education. Cash grants will be provided to allow children to enroll into schools free of charge and to recruit and retain teachers. It will also provide safe drinking water, and promote child hygiene with WASH clubs and campaigns to prevent the spread of cholera, COVID-19 and other diseases. Adolescent girls will be provided with feminine hygiene kits and menstrual hygiene management information in all targeted schools. Concerted efforts will be made to provide psychosocial support, and reach the most vulnerable children and adolescents, including children with disabilities.

Worldwide 222 million crisis-impacted children and adolescents are in need of educational support. ECW and its global strategic partners are calling on governments, donors, the private sector and high-net-worth individuals to urgently mobilize US$1.5 billion to realize #222MillionDreams✨📚 in lead up to the Fund’s High-Level Financing Conference, which will take place in Geneva in February 2023.

Note to Editors

About Education Cannot Wait (ECW):
Education Cannot Wait (ECW) is the United Nations global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises. We support quality education outcomes for refugee, internally displaced and other crisis-affected girls and boys, so no one is left behind. ECW works through the multilateral system to both increase the speed of responses in crises and connect immediate relief and longer-term interventions through multi-year programming. ECW works in close partnership with governments, public and private donors, UN agencies, civil society organizations, and other humanitarian and development aid actors to increase efficiencies and end siloed responses. ECW urgently appeals to public and private sector donors for expanded support to reach even more vulnerable children and youth.  The Education Cannot Wait High-Level Financing Conference, co-hosted by ECW and Switzerland, and co-convened with Colombia, Germany, Niger, Norway and South Sudan, will take place February 16-17, 2023, in Geneva. 

On Twitter, please follow: @EduCannotWait, @YasmineSherif1, @KentPage

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Kent Page,, +1-917-302-1735
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