Dutch aid to help deal with effects of El Niño

The government is providing aid to people in the Horn of Africa and southern Africa who are at great risk from the effects of El Niño. ‘Rising temperatures are threatening millions of people in these regions who are at risk of malnourishment, or worse,’ said the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Lilianne Ploumen. ‘We cannot let that happen, so we must act now.’ The minister announced the aid this afternoon in the Malawian capital, Lilongwe. Malawi is one of the countries affected by El Niño. Later this week, the minister will visit Ethiopia, where the effects of El Niño are also widespread.

El Niño is caused by a rise in the temperature of the Pacific Ocean. One of the consequences is a weakening of the trade winds near the equator, causing temperatures to rise to several degrees above average. The World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have established that five regions are being affected by El Niño. The Horn of Africa and southern Africa are being hit particularly hard. ‘That’s why we’re focusing on those regions,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘Women, children and the elderly are especially at risk. The lack of food is one problem, but El Niño is threatening their livelihoods in other ways as well.’

The Netherlands is providing various kinds of aid. This includes direct food aid or cash vouchers for food. Farmers in Ethiopia, Somalia and Mozambique will also be taught about climate change and equipped to deal with its effects. This includes distributing seeds that are more resistant to drought. The WPF and FAO programmes also focus on activities like repairing wells and building or improving irrigation systems in Somalia, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

The Netherlands is making a total of €8 million available for aid. An important aspect is that the governments of the countries in question bear the primary responsibility. The Dutch contribution is part of a large package to which other countries are also contributing funds. The UN organisations work closely with government authorities and local organisations to set up and implement programmes to better equip the population to cope with drought.