Sub-Saharan Africa: Famine

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office written question – answered on 15th October 2020.

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Photo of John Martin McDonnell John Martin McDonnell Labour, Hayes and Harlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, what steps he is taking to ensure that food shortages and famine across Sub-Saharan Africa do not result in an increase in sexual exploitation of adolescent girls.

Photo of James Duddridge James Duddridge Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Sexual exploitation is completely unacceptable. That is why the UK is a vocal advocate for safeguarding against sexual exploitation, abuse and sexual harassment (SEAH). We remain firmly committed to raising safeguarding standards across the aid sector and we continue to have zero tolerance to any form of sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.

FCDO launched a new UK Strategy on Safeguarding Against SEAH last month that applies to all UK Official Development Assistance. Partners undergo our enhanced safeguarding due diligence to ensure they meet our high standards.

The current food security situation in sub-Saharan Africa places adolescent girls at increased risk of sexual exploitation. All humanitarian programmes, including those addressing chronic hunger and its broader underlying drivers, undertake a robust gender analysis of SEAH risks. This informs programme design, interventions and monitoring. The UK is also a leading donor on gender-responsive social protection. This protects and builds the resilience of poor and vulnerable families to reduce negative coping mechanisms such as exchanging sex for food or marrying daughters in exchange for assets or cash.

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