• Resilience building key to ending need.
• Achievements in the first half of 2018
• Brussels hosts Somalia Partnership Forum
• Humanitarian access challenges persist.
• More resources needed to boost humanitarian response.
• The Response Plan revised
Resilience building key to ending need
The latest projection by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) indicates an improving food security situation in areas that were affected by the 2016-2017 drought.
This improvement is tentative, as it is largely due to the above-average Gu rainy season (April-June) supported by large-scale humanitarian assistance. The above average Gu rains have seen Somalia emerge from a severe drought. However, humanitarian needs remain critical. Some 5.4 million people require assistance. Most areas of the country are currently in Stress (IPC Phase 2), with some in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) – mainly IDP populations with limited access to tenable livelihoods. The risk of deterioration remains, should aid not be sustained, particularly for the IDPs who largely depend on it.
Four consecutive poor rainy seasons had pushed the country to the verge of famine last year. The collaborative efforts of aid agencies and authorities, alongside timely and historic levels of support from donors, staved off famine. Relief from the drought came in the form of above average Gu rains. The rains were not without negative impacts as severe flooding resulted in scores of deaths and affected over 830,000 people through crop and asset loses and temporary displacement.
Climatic shocks have been a recurrent problem; their frequency, intensity and severity have increased since the turn of the millennium, due to climate change. This calls for the further scaling-up of household and infrastructure resilience approaches that are consistent with development programming. In the absence of these, Somalia will continue to seek immediate external assistance to save lives, with too little going towards longer-term investments needed to build resilience and to break the cycle of recurrent crises. During the famine prevention efforts of 2017, the Federal Government of Somalia, with support from the United Nations, European Union and World Bank, embarked on a process to create a Resilience and Recovery Framework (RRF) that would not only make governance and aid systems more resilient to shocks, but would also implement activities aimed at making generations of future Somalis famine-proof.
The improvements in food security provide a window of opportunity for aid agencies to strengthen their focus on the New Way of Working and to achieve agreed-upon collective outcomes. Somalia is at a critical juncture, where it has made progress on the political and governance fronts, and now it is imperative that these gains translate into sustainable development. The foundations for enhancing resilience to foster recovery, avoid future calamities and address the root causes of recurrent problems were laid down as far back as 2012. However, infrastructure resilience remains a huge gap. The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) estimates that in Somalia, for every $100 spent on humanitarian responses, only $0.08 goes to disaster risk reduction.
Despite limited resources, where humanitarian and development partners have worked together, immediate and long-term resilience solutions have proven to be achievable and cost-effective. For example, in areas where humanitarians are responding to severe water shortages, such as Baidoa in South West State, development partners have drilled boreholes. Overall, WASH partners have consistently argued that the cost of providing 20,000 people with water through trucking for a year is $2.8 million. This is equivalent to the amount needed to set up a water distribution network to provide for the same population for over 15 years, with regular maintenance.
Recent studies have also shown that when early humanitarian action is combined with resilience building, hundreds of millions of dollars in life-saving aid can be saved and then channeled towards strengthening further resilience programmes, such as livelihood support. Only when this paradigm shift takes shape, supported with adequate funding in support of long-term goals, will Somalia extricate itself from its protracted vulnerability to climatic shocks.
Achievements in the first half of 2018
With flooding in southern and central areas of the country, a devastating cyclone in the north, the escalation of regional conflicts, particularly in the disputed Sool region, a significant upsurge in the displacement crisis and continued evictions compounded the humanitarian situation in the first six month of the year. Despite a challenging first six months of the year, major advancements have been made by humanitarian partners.
Nearly two million people are receiving food assistance, and over 755,000 are assisted with temporary access to safe water every month. Health services have been provided to more than 1.6 million people between January and June, nearly half a million of whom are in flood-affected areas. While cases of acute watery diarrhoea (AWD), cholera and measles continue to be reported, their frequencies are significantly lower than in 2017, mainly as a result of immunization campaigns conducted in 2017 and 2018. Routine vaccinations for tuberculosis, tetanus and measles are also underway. In June alone, nutrition treatment was provided to 124,000 new cases of severe acute malnutrition. Another 166,000 beneficiaries were reached with infant and young child feeding counselling. Over 1.2 million children under the age of five are projected to be malnourished in 2018. Read more on cluster responses in the June Humanitarian Dashboard: https://bit.ly/2vbOaZp.