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
AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY, FISHING
GENERAL ENVIRONMENT PROTECTION
WATER SUPPLY & SANITATION
DISASTER PREVENTION AND PREPAREDNESS
Agricultural development
Environmental policy and administrative management
Water resources conservation (including data collection)
Disaster prevention and preparedness

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
HEALTH
HEALTH
Health policy and administrative management
Basic 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.


MdM-France: Integrating Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Bosaso Basic Health Care System

01.04.2019 - 31.12.2021

This 6-year programme aims at improving health service delivery in Bosaso town (Puntland, Somalia) by integrating quality sexual and reproductive health (SRH) services into primary health care delivery packages. This intervention will also contribute to strengthen the emerging public health system by building the capacities of the Bosaso-based Ministry of Health and local health providers to sustain, in the long term, access to quality health services for the most vulnerable, especially women.


OVCI - Improving nutritional condition of most vulnerable groups in Juba

01.03.2019 - 31.01.2021

Malnutrition among children and other vulnerable groups remains worse as a result of the prevailing food insecurity situation in South Sudan. According to the 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for South Sudan, some 1.8 million people – the majority of which are children under five years - face malnutrition. Through this project, Volunteers Organization for International Co-operation (OVCI) intends to address malnutrition of vulnerable children, pregnant and lactating mothers and other destitute persons in Juba County by improving their dietary intake.


Planned project

Somalia - Private Sector Partnerships for Health (PSPH)

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2030

Despite high dependence on international aid, the Somali health sector remains dominated by local business providers. In 2017, SDC piloted a business-franchising model as a component of the health delivery system in Somalia. This project “Private Sector Partnership for Health” will investigate further and promote the most effective and relevant private and/or public-private models for improved quality and affordable health services delivery in Somalia.


Contributions to OCHA Field Operations in 2019

01.01.2019 - 31.12.2019

OCHA’s mission is to coordinate the global emergency response, to save lives and protect people in humanitarian crises. OCHA advocates for effective and principled humanitarian action by all, for all, in partnership with national and international actors in order to alleviate human suffering in sudden-onset disasters and protracted crises. It is responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent and timely response to emergencies. Therefore, SDC seeks to provide support to OCHA field and regional offices in relevant humanitarian contexts, in line with SDC geographic and thematic priorities.

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