Action Against Hunger Calls for Sustained Assistance to Prevent Catastrophe

Intensifying Drought in Somalia Heightens Risk of Severe Famine

30% of children amoung displaced populations in Mogadishu are acutely malnourished

By Action Against Hunger

Dec 7 2017

Action Against Hunger Calls for Sustained Assistance to Prevent Catastrophe

Governments and other key global partners are convening in Mogadishu today to discuss plans for sustaining humanitarian support for Somalia. In response to a recent alert that parts of Somalia could face severe famine in 2018, Action Against Hunger urged the international community to sustain large-scale levels of assistance to save the lives of acutely malnourished children and meet the urgent survival needs of communities devastated by extreme drought and conflict.

As the international community convenes in Mogadishu this week, Action Against Hunger calls for:

  • Donors to mobilise full funding for the 2018 Humanitarian Response Plan and translate pledges into funding at the frontline now;
  • Parties to conflict to uphold international humanitarian law and ensure that populations in need have access to aid;
  • The Government of Somalia to guarantee safe, unimpeded humanitarian operations to address the crisis.

According to a new report from the Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), more than 3.1 million people across Somalia are now in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, and acute malnutrition is a major public health emergency threatening the lives of 1.2 million children. Four consecutive seasons of failed rains have wiped out crops and livestock, leaving communities without food or income. Rising prices for basic commodities are pushing the poorest families deeper into debt and jeopardising their ability to meet their daily survival needs. In the past year alone, drought has displaced an estimated 948,000 people from their homes. 

“We face a critical window of opportunity. The surge in humanitarian assistance in Somalia this year successfully averted famine, but the drought is intesifying and expected to worsen in 2018. If current elevels of aid are reduced or compromised, Somalia could quickly spiral into catastrophe " -  Hajir Maalim, Action Against Hunger's East Africa Regional Director

Data from Action Against Hunger nutrition assessments in 2017 among displaced populations in Mogadishu indicated that 30% of children were acutely malnourished, signifying a very critical emergency. Results from the organisation’s assessments in November 2017 in Hudur district in Bakool also indicated a nutrition emergency, with rates of acute malnutrition at 17.2% among displaced children. Action Against Hunger’s field teams have also documented extreme water shortages among communities in Bakool, with many people unable to access more than 7.5 litres of water per day, which is below the minimum humanitarian standard for survival needs in emergencies.

When famine was declared in Somalia in 2011 under similar conditions, the world was slow to rally a large-scale response, and an estimated 250,000 people died.

“We must act quickly to sustain current levels of aid and save lives. It is equally vital to help people rebuild their livelihoods; strengthen social safety nets; bolster the resilience of communities and markets; and most of all, to prioritise political solutions to end the conflict. Famine never happens out of the blue. Today, the warning signs are in plain view. We must learn from the past and take action - both now and in the longer term - to prevent the worst" -  Hajir Maalim, Action Against Hunger's East Africa Regional Director

Despite significant efforts from the government of Somalia and humanitarian partners over the past year, the extended, severe drought has caused a sharp deterioration in food insecurity and a huge increase in needs. The failed rains—along with ongoing conflict, entrenched poverty, and the lack of a functioning healthcare system outside the capital city—have delivered a crippling blow to extremely vulnerable populations still struggling to recover after the 2011 famine.



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Images: © Khadija M Farah for Action Against Hunger