ADDIS ABABA – The European Union (EU) has provided 2 million Euros or approximately 86.8 million Birr to UNICEF to support vulnerable communities affected by desert locusts in the Afar, Amhara, Oromia, Somali and Tigray regional States.
The latest support is in addition to 2.4 million Euros the EU provided to UNICEF in May 2020 to address the nutrition impact of multiple hazards including climate-induced recurrent droughts.
UNICEF says it anticipates the number of children needing treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year to rise by 24 percent due to the combined effects of desert locusts, climate change and the secondary impacts of COVID-19.
Therefore, the number of children UNICEF is targeting for treatment has increased from the 460,000 children initially planned (including 16,000 refugees) to 570,000 children (of whom 18,400 are refugees).
“Children are always the most affected when livelihoods are eroded and access to food and adequate nutrition becomes a challenge,” says UNICEF Representative Adele Khodr.
“We are therefore immensely grateful to the European Union for providing this funding at this critical time. It will enable us to scale up our nutrition interventions and ensure that life-saving treatment reaches the dramatically increasing number of children in need across Ethiopia.”
This latest funding will enable UNICEF to procure therapeutic foods and associated essential medicines to treat an additional 60,000 severely malnourished children.
The grant will also support the warehousing and transportation of malnutrition treatment supplies to ensure they reach the last mile, especially in hard-to-reach areas, according to UNICEF.
The UN agency will also provide meals to support 3,000 caregivers of children admitted to stabilization centers located around desert affected areas.
The current desert locust infestation is the worst in 25 years and is expected to have a significant impact on food security of the five regions.