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Responding to COVID-19 Across the Horn of Africa

Responding to COVID-19 Across the Horn of Africa

In the Horn of Africa, conflicts and famine have triggered the displacement of millions of people within countries and across borders. Today, there are more than 2.7 million refugees and over six million internally displaced people in this part of the world. As the countries of the Horn of Africa were scaling up their responses to a recent displacement crisis triggered by conflicts and droughts, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

The relationship between host communities and refugees can often be fragile and complex. False or misleading information on COVID-19 has the potential to exacerbate tensions and contribute to the stigmatization of refugee populations. The disruption of informal sector livelihoods, which are a mainstay for refugees and host communities, is a further cause of social tensions.

The IDA-supported Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP), which aims to improve access to basic social services, expand economic opportunities, and enhance environmental management for communities hosting refugees, is shifting its focus in response to the COVID-19 crisis. IDA is scaling up the project to help mitigate the social and economic risks of the pandemic—reaching approximately three million beneficiaries across Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia and Uganda.

Under Uganda’s DRDIP, social and water conservation and land clearing activities were implemented among small groups of five people working in rotation and following new social distancing protocols. The operation is helping community organizations share prevention and basic hygiene messages through radio, short message services, and other digital means. The focus has also shifted to providing support to health centers and Water Supply, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH)-related investments.

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