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Over Seven Million in Desperate Need of Aid as Somalia Famine Risk Worsens

Published: August 1, 2022
A mother looks on as a health worker feeds her son with nutrition supplements in the Purapul village of Marsabit, northern Kenya, on July 12, 2022. Four consecutive seasons of poor rains have left millions of drought-stricken people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia facing starvation. (Image: SIMON MAINA/AFP via Getty Images)

Parts of Somalia could be experiencing famine this September, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), has warned.

The UN agency warns that eight regions in the country could be affected if livestock continue to die, key commodity prices rise further, and humanitarian assistance fails to reach the most vulnerable.

More than three million animals essential to Somalia’s pastoral and agro-pastoral communities have died so far and crop production has substantially dropped due to unprecedented poor rainfalls and intense dry conditions.

Since the beginning of 2022, over 900,000 people were displaced due to the drought crisis.

Hassan Abdul Koran, 38-year-old farmer from Diinsoor, a town in the southwestern Bay region of Somalia, left home with his family, after losing all their livestock and crops.

They came to Dolow, more than 187 miles (300 kilometers) away, hoping to get some assistance.

“There was severe drought in the country and no rain. So, whatever we planted did not grow,” Koran said.

Fatuma Adan Kusow, a mother of two from Kolaban, also in the Bay region, walked with her two children for more than 300 km, surviving on handouts from people along the way.

“When we finished our stock of food from the farm and animals started dying, we could not feed our children. We decided to flee because of hunger,” she said.

The number of people in need of urgent humanitarian assistance has increased from 4.1 million at the start of 2022 to 7.1 million people between June and September 2022.

In April, water and staple food prices rose by 140-160 percent above the five-year average in some areas.

To assess the situation and garner support for humanitarian response, the Inter-agency Standing Committee Emergency Directors Group recently visited the drought-affected areas.

“Our focus is very much on livelihoods. It is about providing cash to allow people to buy food to survive. It is about keeping the animals alive with emergency feeding, with vet treatments, with water supplies for animals in a drought context, which is super important. These are the practical types of activities we need to do,” said Rein Paulsen, the FAO’s Emergencies and Resilience Director.

The FAO is delivering assistance in rural areas and has reached 265, 013 households between January and June this year, but the scale of assistance currently being delivered and funding from the international community is not sufficient. 

Reporting by Donna Omulo, Reuters.