Aid agencies in Somalia have launched a Drought Response Plan seeking US$710 million for critical life-saving assistance to 4.5 million drought-affected Somalis in the most severely affected areas between now and the end of December.
Two years after the prolonged 2016/2017 drought destroyed livelihoods and displaced almost one million Somalis. While this triggered a massive and successful scale up in humanitarian response to avert famine, severe climatic conditions, combined with other persistent drivers of humanitarian crisis, armed conflict, protracted displacement and a spike in evictions of internally displaced persons are again pushing Somalia towards a major humanitarian emergency. Areas in northern and central Somalia are most adversely affected.
The number of people in crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity or worse is expected to reach 2.2 million by July, if aid is not scaled up. This is more than 40 per cent higher than January this year. Malnutrition, drought-related diseases and displacement are on the rise. Severe acute malnutrition rates among children are increasing rapidly, particularly among the internally displaced persons (IDPs).
Photo: OCHA/G. Clarke
Somalia at a critical juncture
“The drought situation in Somalia has deteriorated rapidly and intensified much earlier than seen over the last decade. Somalia is at a critical juncture, and with sufficient resources, we can reactivate the structures that successfully avoided famine in 2017,” said George Conway, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. “As we continue to work under the leadership of Somali authorities to rebuild resilience and address the underlying causes of such recurrent crises, it is now critical that everyone, including donors, the private sector, Somalis in-country and in the diaspora, rallies behind these collective response and prevention efforts,” he added.
Drought induced population displacement is on the rise, adding to the 2.6 million displaced persons, who continue to face serious risks of evictions, marginalization and exclusion across the country. Displaced persons in urban centers and pastoralist communities in rural areas are among the hardest hit by the unfolding severe drought.
Immediate scale up in humanitarian response is required to mitigate the effects of the drought crisis, complemented by development efforts through the Government’s Resilience and Recovery Framework, to ensure that Somalia is better prepared to face future shocks of this nature. However, limited resources constrain the ability of humanitarian partners to launch a massive response. Response activities are scaling back, including in critical sectors such as WASH, health, nutrition and food assistance in several drought-affected areas and urban centers receiving newly displaced people. The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan which seeks $1.08 billion is only 20 per cent funded amid growing needs.