Somalia has been on the brink of famine in recent months due to the
historic drought triggered by five consecutive failed rainy seasons,
skyrocketing food prices and intensifying conflict.
The Integrated Food Security Phase (IPC) Acute Food Insecurity analysis specifically flags elevated mortality levels in some of the most
exposed areas. According to the latest projection update, between
January and March 2023, 1.9 million people are expected to be in IPC
Phase 4 (Emergency) conditions, increasing to 2.7 million people between
April and June. Up to 727,000 people could face catastrophic food
insecurity by June 2023, meaning starvation and death.
“The situation in Somalia remains dire. Current levels of
humanitarian assistance are helping to prevent extreme outcomes, but
they are not sufficient to halt the threat of famine beyond a few months
at a time,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia.
“People are dying in IPC Phase 4. Yet, still there is an unrelenting
focus on famine declarations as a trigger for action. Real action needs
to be taken not only to help communities meet their immediate needs, but
also so they can adapt their livelihoods and build resilience in the
face of climate crises and economic shocks, preparing them for whatever
the future may bring.”
“Sustained levels of at-scale support will be required well into mid-
to late-2023 if we are to prevent, not just delay famine,” he added.
Rural communities are most at risk
The extended and unprecedented drought conditions have left pastoral,
agropastoral and farming communities unable to cope. Rural farming and
pastoralist communities, as well as displaced communities who are
overwhelmingly from rural areas, are among those most at risk of famine.
Their survival depends on the survival of their herds and ability to
grow crops, which have been severely hampered by the extended drought.
Their children’s nutrition is inextricably linked to the health and
productivity of their animals. Unable to produce milk, those animals
have been dying at a shocking rate for the last year.
It is crucial to save livestock and keep them fed and healthy since
they are the only source of food and income for many rural communities.
Preliminary findings from an upcoming study in the Horn of Africa
indicate that keeping livestock fed reduced the risk of acute
malnutrition by up to 11% and of child stunting by up to 8% in
pastoralist communities. Providing this assistance is relatively cheap,
averaging at about $0.40 per goat compared with $40 to replace the goat.
FAO will continue providing range cubes and vaccines for animals and
restoring water holes, alongside cash assistance to help people meet
their basic needs.
Livelihoods support severely underfunded
Rural livelihoods assistance saves lives, helping people to remain in
their homes when it is safe for them to do so and paving the way for
future recovery. Currently, a lack of large-scale funding for
livelihoods support, climate‑resilient food production and development
priorities poses great challenges. This leaves livelihoods and the
productive sectors they depend on, weak and vulnerable to climate and
FAO’s response to the crisis
From May to December 2022, under the Famine Prevention Scale-up Plan,
FAO has reached more than 700 000 individuals across 35 districts with
cash, more than 40 000 individuals with agricultural inputs such as
seeds, animal feed and fertilizers, treated 11 million animals to
support their survival and trucked 27 million litres of water to remote
Over $24 million in cash, alongside livelihoods assistance, has been
provided to rural communities who are most exposed to famine.
Furthermore, FAO plans to reach over a million more people in the coming months.
Although FAO’s appeal is expected to be 70 percent funded within the
year, additional funds are still urgently needed to provide life-saving
support through cash transfers in hard-to-reach and inaccessible rural
areas, as well as to secure the main Gu season harvest, and ensure those
who can plant receive inputs on time.
FAO News and Media (Rome)
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