Between 2010-2012, Somalia experienced a famine that claimed 260,000 lives, of which half were children under the age of 5. In the aftermath of the famine, humanitarian organizations placed blame and responsibility on each other for failing to take action in a timely manner. Waiting for the famine declaration from the UN proved to be deadly, as chaos and disorder ensued in an attempt to provide relief. Mobilization and action on the ground simply came too late, and hindered efforts in many parts of Somalia.
Another crisis is quickly unfolding this year. On August 5th, the Somali federal government declared a famine in Gedo, Bakool, Hiiraan, Galgaduud, Bay, and Middle and Lower Shabelle (Hiiraan Online). Drought has gripped much of the country, leaving nearly three million Somalis at risk for food insecurity. In conflict areas 1.1 million people remain internally displaced. UNICEF estimates that 200,000 children could die by the end of the year if no action is taken.
Food insecurity has become a prominent issue through much of 2014. The seasonal Gu rains historically bring abundant rainfall to much of the country. However, this year’s Gu rains arrived nearly a month late in some places and were brief in duration. As a result, the Gu harvest is projected to be below average for the second harvest in a row. This has caused prices to skyrocket for basic crops, especially in southern Somalia. In the Bakool region, red sorghum spiked 68% between March-June 2014 and is up 142% compared to June 2013 (FEWSNET). The Global Acute Malnutrition Rate (GAM) has subsequently hit 18.9% in IDP camps in the Mogadishu area, well above the 15% emergency level. The situation is expected to persist until the Deyr rains arrive in October.
Deteriorating health conditions have been exacerbated by food insecurity. Over 4,000 cases of measles were reported between January-June 2014, with a majority of the cases being children under five (UNOCHA). Banadir, Puntland, and Lower Juba have been particularly affected by the outbreak. Malnutrition makes children susceptible to contagious diseases like measles, increasing risk for severe illness or death. The UN Central Emergency Relief Fund announced in July that $1.4 million will be used to vaccinate 520,000 children under five in the regions affected by the outbreak.
The complex situation in Somalia requires immediate action. People are already suffering and cannot afford to wait any longer. ARAHA has been aware and attentive to the situation since the beginning of 2014. As one of the few organizations present in Somalia, our offices can act immediately when there’s an emergency. More than 500 families received food baskets. Emergency food and non-food items will be distributed during August to areas of southern Somalia. Your continued support is much needed and appreciated during this difficult time.