Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection

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Southern Africa and Indian Ocean

Within the Cash for Assets project, in the Taung village, people built stone structures to protect fields against erosion from heavy rains. Photo credit: EU/ECHO/Anna Chudolinska

What are the needs?

The Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region is prone to recurrent natural disasters such as cyclones, floods and droughts. This southernmost region of the African continent comprises of Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the Islands of Comoros, Madagascar, Seychelles and Mauritius.

Farming is the main livelihood for a large number of people, who thus heavily rely on rainfall. Poor seasons often cause acute food insecurity and contribute to chronic malnutrition, especially among children. Some of the frequently affected areas include southern Malawi, southern Madagascar, southern and central Mozambique, southern districts of Zimbabwe and most of Lesotho.

Cyclones and the associated flooding seasonally contaminate water sources and stagnant water, which increases the risks of disease outbreaks, such as cholera or malaria.

Across the region, food insecurity is exacerbated by political instability, socio-economic challenges, world's highest HIV/AIDS prevalence and widespread poverty that result in high vulnerability of the population to natural hazards and economic pressures. 

What are we doing?

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), together with its partners, regularly monitors the humanitarian situation in the region and responds to the immediate needs in sectors of water and sanitation, shelter, food, relief items, primary health, protection and livelihoods recovery following  disasters, such as, floods, cyclones, droughts, and disease outbreaks.

Additionally, since 2008, ECHO has supported Disaster Risk Reduction initiatives and resilience building of communities and local institutions. This includes better preparing communities and institutions in hazard-prone areas; improving Early Warning Systems and local response capacities; and developing adequate systems to mitigate the impact of disasters.

Rural populations in the region continue to face critical food shortages due to poor rainfall, pest attacks, and declining soil fertility. Through disaster preparedness programmes, ECHO supports the introduction of appropriate agriculture techniques, improved seeds and new varieties of crops with the aim of boosting food and nutrition security in the most food insecure parts of the region.

Since 2012, ECHO has supported the Southern Africa and Indian Ocean region with over €56 million in relief assistance and disaster preparedness, contributing to building the resilience of the most vulnerable.

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