Horn of Africa: two SDC humanitarian workers tell us about their work

Article, 19.08.2016

The international community celebrates World Humanitarian Day on 19 August. To mark the occasion, the SDC pays tribute to its own humanitarian workers. Natacha Pugin and Abdi Kunow work day in day out providing food assistance in the Horn of Africa.

A woman sits on a hospital bed with her child on her lap. Both are suffering from severe malnutrition. They are being treated in a hospital in Mogadishu, Somalia.
In 2016, the World Food Programme is helping 1.4 million people facing acute food shortages in Somalia. © WFP/Barry Came

Several hundred experts make up the SDC's Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA). Whether in Bern or abroad, as members of the SHA on assignment in the field or in reserve, these men and women work in a wide range of areas, in all countries around the world that need their help.

The Horn of Africa, for example, faces a multitude of crises, including natural disasters, conflict and extreme poverty. Somalia is the epicentre of the region’s humanitarian crisis, with the highest rates of malnutrition in the world. The UN estimates that 4.7 million people require humanitarian aid in Somalia alone, equivalent to 40% of the population.

So who are the men and women who choose to work in these challenging environments? How do they do their job and what does it entail? What motivates them? We take a closer look at the work of two SDC experts in the Greater Horn of Africa.

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© SDC

Natacha Pugin

Position: Member of the SHA, seconded to the World Food Programme (WFP) in Somalia

Place of work: Nairobi, Kenya, with occasional travel to Somalia

Length of assignment: 12 months

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© SDC

Kunow Abdi

Position: Food security programme officer, Horn of Africa, Swiss cooperation office in Kenya

Place of work: Nairobi, Kenya – Frequent travel to Horn of Africa (Northern Kenya, Somalia)

Links

SDC projects in the Greater Horn of Africa

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Sustainable water and pasture management to alleviate the plight of Ethiopian pastoralists

A group of Ethiopian men and women beside a half dried-up pool of water, using picks and shovels to dig new basins.

01.06.2015 - 31.08.2020

Drought, fodder scarcity and conflicts over natural resources make life difficult for pastoralists in southern Ethiopia. The SDC has taken various measures to improve their food security and their resilience to crisis situations, ranging from the rehabilitation of pastureland and water points to the introduction of land use plans and the diversification of income sources for women.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Ethiopia
Agriculture & food security
Climate change and environment
Water
Agricultural development
Environmental policy
Disaster risk reduction DRR
Water resources conservation

01.06.2015 - 31.08.2020


CHF 6'753'920



Healthy people and animals in Ethiopia thanks to an interdisciplinary project: Jigjiga University One Health Initiative

African farmer ploughing a field with an ox.

01.01.2015 - 30.09.2020

Nomadic pastoralist communities, which constitute one tenth of Ethiopia’s population, have little access to health services. In the Jigjiga University One Health Initiative, the SDC is helping to establish local healthcare services by supporting an interdisciplinary centre of excellence at Jigjiga University in eastern Ethiopia.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Ethiopia
Health
Health systems strengthening
Primary health care

01.01.2015 - 30.09.2020


CHF 2'100'000



Planned project

Towards Elimination of Malaria in the United Republic of Tanzania (TEMT)

01.04.2024 - 31.03.2032

Tanzania made massive progress in malaria control through innovative approaches over the past decade. To sustain and expand these results, the program will capacitate Tanzanian institutions to engage in subnational, intersectoral and cross borders malaria elimination strategies in the region whilst continuously informing the global malaria policies and technical guidelines with practices from Tanzania. Switzerland is a recognised global expert in malaria, providing a strong rational for a renewed Swiss commitment towards “a malaria free world” by 2030.


Planned project

Skills for Employment Tanzania – SET

01.07.2022 - 31.12.2029

This multi-layered program aims at enhancing prospects of gainful youth (self-) employment through a contribution to improved access to agricultural skills, and cross sectorial support to relevance and quality of Vocational Skills Development (VSD) by fostering existing institutions. Focus is placed on the coordination of skills providers and market players and on innovative solutions. The aim is to generate wide impact in order to significantly address the needs in VSD, particularly those of women.


Building Regional and National capacities for improved Migration Governance in the IGAD Region

01.01.2022 - 31.08.2027

The Horn of Africa is of high interest for Switzerland in terms of migration policy. Swiss support to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and its Member States will contribute to improve their migration governance capacities so as to enable the organisation to effectively implement regional, continental and global regulatory standards for the protection of refugees and vulnerable migrants in the region.


Resilience for Pastoralist Communities in Northern Kenya

01.09.2020 - 31.07.2025

Pastoralism is a millennia old livelihood strategy adapted to the marginal and harsh environ-ments of Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASAL). In order to support pastoralists, this programme contributes to strengthening public and private institutions in the water and livestock sectors, putting policy frameworks in place to ensure efficient county-wide and cross-border water and rangeland management systems, and to increase access to water and pasture.


Horn of Africa: One Health Units for Humans, Environment, Animals and Livelihoods

01.07.2020 - 30.06.2032

The project aims at improving the well-being of targeted pastoral communities challenged with inadequate access to basic health/veterinary services and environmental conditions in Somalia, Ethiopia and Northern Kenya through integrated health service delivery for both pastoralists and their livestock. The project will contribute to stability and vulnerability’s reduction of citizens in the region, thereby reducing their displacement/migration which is in the interest of Switzerland and the international community.


Planned project

Domestic accountability and local revenue mobilisation

01.01.2020 - 31.12.2023

The project will support national and local government actors to increase local revenue generation alongside improving their capacities to exercise internal and external control functions. Equally importantly, dialogue and exchange between the local population and local authorities will also be fostered in order to make the collection and use of public funds more transparent, local authorities’ behaviour more accountable and thus improve service delivery.


Somalia: Strengthening State Institutions for better service delivery

01.09.2019 - 31.12.2022

Building state institutions and the capabilities of the Somali government to implement better services is of primary importance to realize the developmental objectives contained in the Somalia National Development Plan (NDP) and the Sustainable Development Goals. With the contribution to the World Bank Multi-Partner Fund (MPF) Switzerland will support the rebuilding of core state functions and the socio-economic recovery in Somalia.


Promoting Inclusive Peacebuilding and Sustainable Livelihoods through Youth Empowerment and Entrepreneurship.

01.08.2019 - 31.07.2022

South Sudan finds itself in lasting state of fragility and chronic conflict that has impacted the social fabric of its population. The project will address deeply rooted social aspects of conflict by training and supporting young peacemakers to engage in conflict resolution and community dialogues. Combined with the promotion of youth-led businesses, the project intends to reduce the risk of the youth entering cycles of despairs and violence. Thereby, it contribute to sustainable development and a longer-term stability in South Sudan.


Ifakara Health Institute: Scaling up of research results and innovations to maximize public health impact

15.06.2019 - 14.06.2022

Investment in health research and innovation in Tanzania is a national policy priority but receives irregular public support. This contribution aims to strengthen the Ifakara Health Institute, a successful research institution with Swiss roots, to improve its research impact at policy and community levels. The intervention will also bring together researchers and end-users in an innovation hub to identify livelihood challenges of youths and innovative approaches to address these. Private sector partnerships with Swiss innovators will be primary clients of the innovation hub.


Somalia, UNFPA Support to Health, gender and Data.

01.06.2019 - 31.12.2020

The maternal mortality rates in Somalia are among the highest in the world, which puts women at a high risk in and around child birth. Support to this programme will increase access to sexual and reproductive rights and health services. The programme will also contribute to addressing gender inequality, as well as production of key population data to be used for evidence based programming in Somalia. This will improve women’s well-being, enhance family planning and, as a consequence, increase stability in the region, which is in the Swiss interest.

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