The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said Thursday it was pledging $7 billion to Africa over the next four years, as Bill Gates warned that the Ukraine crisis was reducing the amount of aid flowing to the continent.
The foundation’s pledge, which is 40% more than it spent in the previous four years, will target projects to combat hunger, disease, poverty and gender inequality.
Nigeria, the most populous country in Africa, will participate the most.
Humanitarian groups in Africa are grappling with funds being diverted to Ukraine, and Russia’s aggression has raised global commodity prices, affecting aid efforts.
“European budgets have been deeply affected by the Ukraine war and therefore the aid trend cannot be increased now,” the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp ( MSFT.O ) told reporters during a visit to the University of Nairobi. Kenya.
“If you take away all the aid (to Africa), including all the climate aid — we’ll have years where it’s likely to taper off.”
Kenya and much of East Africa are suffering from the worst drought in four decades.
Drought, compounded by conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic, have pushed more than 10 million people in the region to “the very brink of a hunger crisis,” US-based Christian relief group World Vision said this week.
The United Nations has said it expects famine to be declared in parts of Somalia this year.
After a meeting with Kenyan President William Ruto, Gates said on Wednesday that the foundation would set up a regional office in Nairobi.
“Our foundation will continue to support solutions in health, agriculture and other critical areas—and to get systems out of the labs and into the people who need them,” Gates, who runs the foundation with his ex-wife Melinda French, said in a statement.
The foundation has given away $6.7 billion in philanthropic aid by 2021 and last week pledged $1.4 billion to help smallholder farmers around the world tackle climate change.