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NGOs Call for Urgent Action to Avert Famine in Somalia (12th September 2022)

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Somalia’s current drought and climate changes have surpassed the 2010-11 and 2016-17 droughts in terms of duration and severity. An estimated 7.8 million people are now severely affected by the drought due to the unprecedented impacts of multiple failed rainy seasons and increasing food prices with the fifth rainy season projected to also fail. Somalia is on the brink of another famine a decade later.

According to the latest food and nutrition analysis report, famine is imminent in some parts of southcentral Somalia in the coming weeks. Baidoa and Buurhakaba districts indicate levels of acute food insecurity and severe acute malnutrition (IPC Phase 4) with a projection of famine in October if no urgent scale up of humanitarian assistance is undertaken.

Some 730 children have died in food and nutrition centres across the country between January and July this year but the numbers could be more as many deaths go unreported. An estimated 1.5 million children under age five face acute malnutrition of which nearly 386,400 are likely to be severely malnourished by the end of 2022.

About 50 percent of the more than 250,000 people who died in the famine of 2011, died before the official declaration. At least half of them were children. In the current drought, women, particularly pregnant and lactating women, and children under the age of five are continuing to be the most vulnerable.

The drought has forced over a million people, predominantly women and girls, from their homes into displaced people camps. They face enormous protection risks in these camps and have to rely on external assistance to meet every single basic need -- water, food, health care, shelter.

The education of 2.4 million school-going children has been affected by the drought, with 1.7 million children already out of school. A further 720,000 children are at risk of dropping out. Experience from past droughts indicates that 90 percent of children who dropped out of school never returned.

Somalia is already impacted by cumulative shocks, including conflict, extreme weather conditions, climate change, desert locusts and the negative socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the country has experienced climate-induced crises for decades, the impact of the current drought has been severe.

Humanitarian partners continue to reach out to drought-affected people with life-saving support. The scale and severity of this crisis demands an urgent large-scale response to prevent the immediate impending famine.

Adverse climatic change characterized by prolonged dry spells are placing millions at risk of starvation in the coming weeks and subsequently leading to famine crisis if no immediate humanitarian further finance is mobilized for a massive scale-up.

With needs set to escalate in the weeks ahead, including with projections for a fifth consecutive failed rainy season, we, the undersigned NGOs, call on donors to put forward additional funding in the coming weeks to enable a massive scale-up of assistance. One of the most valuable lessons learnt during the 2016/2017 drought response was the quick difference that timely funding can make.

• Despite efforts by NGOs to reach out to the worst affected, the crisis continues to escalate with humanitarian needs expected to remain high through at least mid-2023 and more action and donor support is required.

• While funding arrived late in 2022, this can still be avoided as the crisis continues to worsen with a projected fifth failed rainy season. We need more donors to step in. After the 2011 famine, the world said never again. If we want to honor that promise, there is no time to lose.

• We particularly appeal to donors to channel quick, flexible funding to enable humanitarian agencies on the ground, particularly local and international NGOs, to rapidly scale up and prevent more deaths, protect livelihoods and avert the impending catastrophe.

• More funds are needed for life-saving interventions, emergency livelihood assistance and durable solutions, including the centrality of protection in the response as well as Gender Based Violence and Protection.

• National non-governmental organizations rarely receive direct funding. Specialist organizations for women, minority groups and persons with disabilities have a particular role to play in reaching the most vulnerable and must not only be resourced with flexible fundings but viewed as strategic partners that can direct assistance to those needing it most. We urge donors and humanitarian actors to honour their commitments to the Grand Bargain and Charter for Change for localization agenda.

• Humanitarian stakeholders need to coordinate for improved access and reduction of bureaucratic and administrative impediments for humanitarian workers so they can reach all those in need. We urge all actors to facilitate immediate and safe access for humanitarian operations to ensure no one is left behind.

• The people affected by these successive droughts are the human face of the global climate emergency. As humanitarians focus on saving lives and averting famine, there is also a critical need to invest in livelihoods, resilience, infrastructure development, climate adaptation and durable solutions to ensure those affected can adapt and thrive in the future.

• Additional funds to scale-up the ongoing humanitarian operation is needed to avert a bigger disaster like the 2010-2011 famine that led to the death of over a quarter of a million people in Somalia including 133,000 children under the age of five. Somalia is on the verge of famine - WE CANNOT WAIT FOR A DISASTER TO HAPPEN TO ACT!