News Alert: As Famine Looms, Malnutrition and "Horror" Levels of Hunger Batter Millions in Somalia
As rains continue to fail in East Africa, over 7.8 million people in Somalia, nearly half of the country's population, have now been affected by the drought, which began in October 2020. Of those, 213,000 are starving, over a million are displaced, and an estimated 386,000 children could die without lifesaving treatment for severe acute malnutrition.
Mercy Corps Country Director for Somalia, Daud Jiran, says:
"We are burying babies and watching with heartbreak as mothers cry because they don't know what to feed their children, now dying of hunger and thirst, and drought robs families of crops and livestock, their only source of income. It is infuriating that we have once again reached the brink of famine when we have the tools to combat hunger and prevent starvation. The world is witnessing how climate change, conflict, rising food costs, and the knock-on impacts of COVID-19 are collapsing food systems and leading to preventable deaths. Continuing drought and starvation are the future if we do not protect the planet from a changing climate and help the communities hit first and hardest, like those in Somalia, mitigate and adapt.
Thanks to a recent inflow of funding, humanitarian organizations have continued providing cash assistance, food, water, sanitation, and treatment of acute and severe malnutrition to millions in recent months. But competing global crises like the war in Ukraine have resulted in far less funding and attention to the hunger catastrophe unfolding in Somalia. We still have a small window of time to prevent famine if we act quickly and scale up resources to provide lifesaving support to areas of Somalia where millions of lives hang in the balance.
Climate change is no longer a distant threat. Urgent nutrition and food assistance for those most at-risk is the priority, particularly as seasonal forecasts strongly indicate that the next rainy season will also fail. Over a decade since more than 260,000 Somalis died from a famine that could have been preventable, the international community must immediately disperse funding to enable humanitarian organizations to continue delivering cash, food, safe water and other lifesaving assistance to people whose lives depend on it now.
As part of the international response, more funds are required to help communities better prepare to withstand recurring droughts and increasingly unpredictable weather patterns linked to climate change. Also important are investments so that the Somali children will not face starvation again five years from now. Ultimately, we will continue to grapple with these devastating crises unless we take bolder action to address the underlying drivers - both conflict and climate change.