Paul Healy, Country Director, Trócaire
Currently 7.7 million people in Somalia, or half the population, are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. 4.3 million people are now severely affected by the ongoing drought. The international community needs to take action – now!
Following three consecutive failed rainfall seasons, and a projected below average rainy season between April and June 2022, millions of people in Somalia face severe hunger unless drastic action is taken.
Experts suggest that this is the worst drought in 40 years. The impacts are truly devastating.
Currently, 4.3 million people are affected by extreme drought. Over 271,000 people have fled their homes, flocking to already overcrowded Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps. We expect that number to rise to 1.4 million in the coming months.
During a recent assessment in Luuq District in Gedo, southcentral Somalia, where Trocaire manages the main health facility, the District Commissioner witnessed a father and his two starving children living under a tree in the IDP camp with no shelter and no food.
“These are times of great hunger. Children are the most vulnerable. There is limited access to food, and food prices are rising, predisposing families and their children to severe malnutrition,” he said.
Severe water shortages have heightened the risk of disease outbreaks, with people and animals are now competing for untreated water from hand-dug shallow wells and dwindling rivers. Cases of Acute Watery Diarrhoea/Cholera, and outbreaks of measles, are on the rise in multiple drought-affected locations. There are witnessed accounts of IDP populations feeding on animal carcases at night, creating a further severe risk of disease.
The latest food security report states that 4.6 million people will face emergency-level food insecurity between now and May. According to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNA) in Somalia, approximately 1.2 million children under the age of five are likely to be acutely malnourished.
Mother of two, Fatuma Ganun Mohamed, who is supported by Trócaire, has spoken about the devastating impact of the drought. “After the drought took our livestock, we had to leave behind our rural house and the little we had to get something to eat for our children. Here the weather is harsh. Living in the camp is very difficult, especially for the children, who are very thin and sick most of the time.”
Her infant son, Abdikan, was admitted to the Trócaire supported stabilization centre in Luuq when he was severely malnourished. The image shows Abdikan after one week of treatment.
While the drought continues to threaten the country, humanitarian partners are scaling up their response by reprogramming ongoing activities. However, limited resources have led to a rapid depletion of the available funding and stocks.
On December 23rd humanitarian partners released the 2022 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), seeking US$1.46 billion to assist 5.5 million of the most vulnerable people. Less than 2% of the needed funds has come from donors to date. The Somalia NGO Consortium, of which Trocaire is a member, is urging donors to intervene as soon as possible to avoid a catastrophe.
The international community needs to listen – and to act now.