The impact of prolonged drought in Somalia

More than 2.9 million people in Somalia are facing intense food shortages due to drought in 2016 and 2017. During this period, rains failed for three consecutive seasons which severely impacting crop yields and led to significant loss of livestock.

Absence of safe drinking water has accelerated an intense water crisis and led to a cholera outbreak with an estimated 32,000 cases announced between January and May 2017. Due to drought in Somalia, 1.4 million children were anticipated to require treatment for intense lack of nutrition in 2017, according to the UN Children‘s Fund (UNICEF). FEWS NET estimated 2.9 million people remained in an intense drought emergency in Somalia in June 2017. In March 2017, 1.75 million people received international food aid, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

1.1 million people are estimated to be internally displaced in Somalia due to the 2016-2017 drought. The vast majority displaced left the local areas of Bay, Lower Shabelle, and Sool and settled in urban zones, for example, Mogadishu and Baidoa.  A total of 2 million people are estimated to have been displaced since January 2017.  The situation has been further impacted by the return of 56,000 previously displaced Somalians from Kenya’s Dadaab evacuee camp to Somalia through UNHCR’s intentional repatriation program and have settled in Gedo, Bay, Lower Jubba, and Banaadir.

History of Drought in Somalia

Somalia has been blighted by ongoing cycles of drought over the past 25 years.  Approximately 260,000 people died during the

History of Drought in Somalia

famine that hit Somalia from 2010 to 2012, half of which were children under five according to a report by the UN and the US-supported Famine Early Warning Systems Network.  The emergency caused by serious drought in Somalia was intensified by conflict between groups fighting for control.  The death toll was higher than the 220,000 people who died during the 1992 famine.

Somalia was hit by the extreme drought in 2011 that affected more than 13 million people across the Horn of Africa. Countless people fled their homes in search of food. The UN announced the famine over in February 2012.  “While conditions in Somalia have improved in recent months, the country still has one of the highest rates of child malnutrition and infant mortality in the world” said Ben Foot, from the NGO Save the Children.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said humanitarian aid should be given more rapidly. Rudi Van Aaken, the delegate leader of the FAO activity for Somalia, said “I think the main lesson learned is that the humanitarian community should be ready to take early action – respond early on. Responding only when the famine is declared is very very ineffective. Actually about half of the casualties were there before the famine was already declared.”

Western aid boycott

The UN initially announced a drought in Somalia in July 2011 in Somalia’s Southern Bakool and Lower Shabelle regions. These regions  were controlled by the activist Islamist group al-Shabab, which is linked to al-Qaeda.Al-Shabab denied there was a drought in Somalia and restricted  some Western aid organizations from operating in areas under its control.

The famine later spread to other territories, including Middle Shabelle, Afgoye, and at camps for displaced people in the government controlled capital, Mogadishu.  4.6% of the aggregate populace and 10% of children under five were estimated to have died in southern and central Somalia. In Lower Shabelle 18% of kids under five died and in Mogadishu this figure was 17%.

Crisis Aid is working to help supply food and water to remote areas in Somalia where the drought is at its worst. We supply water tankers, food parcels and help create irrigation channels for crops. Please help us by donating generously.

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