Nearly 40 percent of the people in Somalia will continue to face large-scale food insecurity between now and June 2016 due to poor rainfall and drought conditions in several areas, trade disruptions, displacement and chronic poverty, a UN spokesman told reporters here Monday.
In total, FAO’s latest food insecurity assessment reports that nearly 4.7 million people, or 38 percent of the total population of Somalia are acutely food insecure and will be in need of humanitarian assistance between now and June 2016, he said.
Produced by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) managed by the FAO, and in collaboration with Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), the report said that the situation in the Horn of Africa country is critical and could get worse.
“We are deeply concerned that the proportion of severely food insecure people remains alarmingly high, especially people who are unable to meet their daily food needs. Some 3.7 million people will be acutely food insecure through mid-2016,” said Peter de Clercq, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, in a press release. “With severe drought conditions intensifying in Puntland and Somaliland, many more people risk relapsing into crisis.”
Nearly 950,000 of these people are acutely food insecure and struggle every day to meet their food needs. Internally displaced people make up more than two thirds, or 68 percent, of acutely food insecure people and are in dire need of assistance.
“The level of malnutrition, especially among children, is of serious concern, with nearly 305,000 children under the age of five years acutely malnourished,” said de Clercq. “We estimate that 58,300 children face death if they are not treated. The drought could push these numbers higher in the months to come. We must act now. Partners are ready to scale up response, but funding is urgently needed to ensure this is done in a timely manner.”
While acute food insecurity and malnutrition is prevalent across the country, the report highlights that the drought situation in Puntland and Somaliland is of particular concern. Erratic rains during the 2015 Gu (April to June) and the Karan (August to September) seasons in Puntland and Somaliland resulted in a near-total failure of cereal production (87 percent below the five-year average).
Meanwhile, the 2015 Deyr rains (October to December) were also below average in these areas, putting pressure on pasture and livestock and leading to the migration of 60-70 percent of households along with their animals to areas with better pasture and water.
In addition, poor availability of pasture and water for livestock has significantly exacerbated the humanitarian situation. Increasing movement of livestock — including from Ethiopia and Djibouti — are putting stress on adjacent areas.
“We must do more to address recurrent hunger,” de Clercq said. “Humanitarian assistance is vital and has achieved enormously positive food security results in recent years. But this alone will not free Somalia from the scourge of hunger. We must look to remove the underlying causes of hunger. Fighting hunger is development priority, as well as a humanitarian one.”
Positive food security results along the Shebelle River, resulting from timely and well-targeted preparedness work that significantly reduced El Nino-related flooding shows, once again, that early action saves lives and livelihoods, the Humanitarian Coordinator further underlined, noting that these lessons must be carried forward into drought-affected areas.
The 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia called for 885 million U.S. dollars to address the most urgent needs of 3.5 million people.
It sought to reduce preventable deaths, provide basic services and strengthen the protection of vulnerable people, including the internally displaced, in Somalia. Enditem