Supporting Women & Girls During the East African Food Crisis

Prolonged and successive droughts caused a humanitarian crisis across East Africa leaving over 14 million people at risk of hunger in 2017. Olwyn supported Action Aid in Kenya, Somaliland and Ethiopia, providing life-saving support to over 327,306 people by the end of 2018. Our response focused on providing food assistance and important household items, and increasing the protection of women and girls.

Action Aid’s activities included: Organising direct cash transfers to enable women to pay for essential items such as food and their children’s school fees. 80 women were trained on women’s humanitarian leadership in Somaliland, empowering them with the knowledge and confidence to lead their communities during crises. Improving the support available for women survivors in Kenya by training1,320 community members how to handle incident reporting, complaints and referrals. Action Aid also organised girls’ forums in 12 schools in Kenya to raise awareness among girls of how to respond during an emergency including how to report instances of abuse. They also provided training for women to enable them to take the lead on the targeting of relief items and complaint handling in Ethiopia. This helped to challenge the patriarchal system which previously didn’t allow women to take on responsibilities of this kind. They supported women in Kenya to diversify their livelihoods by providing seeds and water pumps for 1,666 people and raising awareness of agricultural best practice to 311 people to improve livelihoods.

Women’s leadership was a key component of our emergency response to the East Africa Food Crisis and women played a leading role including identifying beneficiaries, overseeing distributions, and handling complaints which had a positive changes at the community level as a result. In Somaliland, women and men are working together more closely and following up on each other’s efforts. For example, men have supported follow-ups on reports of gender-based violence. Women’s leadership has been described as a ‘turning point for the community’ - challenging the patriarchy and reaching the most marginalised groups. Transparency boards, women’s safe spaces and complaints desks improved trust and ownership and transformed women’s leadership in the entire response.

The Olwyn Foundation