Severe drought is increasing the risk of violence against women in the Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is currently facing one of the worst droughts on record, with up to 14 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia facing severe food and water shortages.
Severe drought, chronic water shortages and the recent rise in food and energy prices caused by the war in Ukraine are pushing families to the brink of survival and increasing the risk of violence against women and girls.
Ninety-year-old Amina Yusuf Cige, who lives in the village of Xidhinta in Somaliland, has survived 12 droughts, but says the current situation is the worst she has ever experienced in her lifetime.
“The drought has hit us hard. We have no water. Fuel is very expensive. We used to eat sorghum, rice, pasta and macaroni. But now we do not have the money to buy these foods. We are starving. It used to be nice in the past, but now the world is ending.”
When ActionAid visited drought-affected communities in Somaliland, a semi-autonomous region in Somalia, earlier this month, people reported soaring rise in food and fuel prices since the Russian invasion on 24 February.
Hibo Aden, women's rights officer at ActionAid Somaliland, said the situation has become so desperate for some families that girls are forced to marry in exchange for food and water.
"Last month, the government made an assessment of how the drought affected women and girls. They found that cases of gender-based violence increased by 24%, especially when it comes to domestic violence, forced marriages and girls dropping out of education."
Their conditions are further aggravated by the effects of the war in Ukraine. Ms Aden said that Somaliland’s dependency on imports for products like spaghetti, flour and rice, makes it susceptible to shocks in the global food market. It will therefore be disproportionately affected by rising global food and fuel prices, with direct effects on the lives of women and girls.
We at ActionAid are already working with local partners to provide food aid and water to the most affected population, with a focus on the safety and rights of women and girls.