Somalia on the brink of catastrophic famine

Somalia is facing the dire prospect of a devastating famine as the country experiences a fourth consecutive failed rainy season.  

Nearly 8 million people – half the country’s population – are facing extreme hunger.  

The last famine declared in Somalia, in 2011, killed a quarter of a million people. Unless urgent action is taken, Somalia is tracking towards a humanitarian disaster on an unimaginable scale.  

According to the World Food Programme:

7.1 million people

need urgent humanitarian assistance 

1.5 million children

under 5 suffer from acute malnutrition

213,000 people

face catastrophic levels of hunger

Famine is declared when malnutrition is so widespread that people die of starvation through a lack of access to food. It is the most extreme form of hunger and can have devastating effects on a country’s most vulnerable communities.

Somalia has a long history of droughts, but climate change has exacerbated the frequency and intensity of extreme weather across the country. Many communities in the country are pastoralists who rely on regular rainfall to feed their livestock and crops. Across Somalia, an estimated 6.4 million people currently lack access to safe water and sanitation due to the deteriorating drought, overcrowding, limited resources and exorbitant water prices.

Since January, 2021, over 1.1 million people have been forced from their homes due to drought. More than 250,000 people, mostly women and children, are now living in informal camps in the Gedo region in southern Somalia, where food and resources were already in short supply.

Caritas Australia is working with our partner, Trócaire, to provide immediate lifesaving health, nutrition and food security support for vulnerable families in Gedo region. Trócaire has been working in the region for over 30 years, providing humanitarian aid and development to the most marginalised communities. The program will also provide Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), and education support to help communities affected by the crisis.

It’s brutal, I’ve never seen anything as bad in 25 years. The drought is extensive, massive, and the impact is just horrible on the communities. In Somalia in particular we have one million displaced by the drought. These are mostly women and children, shoved into camps where they are reliant on humanitarian aid for survival.

Paul Healy, Country Director at Trócaire

Earlier this month, ABC Middle East correspondent Tom Joyner travelled to Somalia, reporting from the Trócaire health clinics in Gedo. You can read the ABC report here

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