Although humanitarian aid has so far stopped famine and worse results in some areas of Somalia, millions of rural Somalis still confront unheard-of difficulties to their food security. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) stated today in the context of the recently released food security survey findings that reversing the alarming trend requires transformative actions to sustainably improve food and water security, reduce people’s vulnerability to shocks and stresses, and improve their adaptation to climate change.
Due to an unprecedented drought brought on by five consecutive years of insufficient rain and the likelihood of a sixth, which has been made worse by high food and water prices, conflict, and a lack of access to clean water, sanitary conditions, and health care, Somalia has been on the verge of famine in recent months.
Famine is no longer anticipated in some areas of Somalia, according to the most recent Integrated Food Security Phase (IPC) analysis, but the situation is still dire and there is still a “Risk of Famine” in some places. This is due to a significant increase in multisectoral humanitarian assistance.
According to the analysis, approximately 5 million people in Somalia will experience IPC Phase 3 “Crisis” levels of acute food insecurity between January and March 2023, including 96 000 people who will experience catastrophic hunger (IPC Phase 5).
More than a third of the population, or 6.5 million people, are predicted to experience “Crisis” or worse (IPC Phase 3 or higher) levels of acute food insecurity between April and June of this year. Of these, 223 000 people are estimated to experience catastrophic hunger (IPC Phase 5).
Furthermore, if the rains during the 2023 Gu season are insufficient and relief does not reach those who need it most, the agropastoral communities in the Burhakaba district and the displaced people in Baidoa and Mogadishu face a “Risk of Famine” from April to June 2023.
The humanitarian and development community must figure out how to accomplish more with fewer resources in the face of competing goals at the global level and an uptick in climate shocks. Millions of Somalis who are still in danger of falling into starvation need immediate and persistent assistance at scale to save their lives and their way of life.
The FAO’s Somalia Famine Prevention Scale-up Plan has collected $183 million, or 68 percent of the necessary money (May 2022 – June 2023). The Organization reached almost 1 million people with these monies or 47% of the planned 2.4 million. In order to increase immediate access to food and basic necessities in rural, difficult-to-reach, and inaccessible areas, as well as to protect livelihoods and boost food production where it is still feasible, FAO urgently needs extra financing.
“FAO’s livelihoods assistance is saving lives and paving the way for faster recovery for many,” said Rein Paulsen, Director of the FAO Office of Emergencies and Resilience. “However, the protracted crisis now in its third year has exhausted the coping strategies of the most vulnerable, with families experiencing destitution, displacement, childhood malnutrition and even loss of life. Investments in early warning systems, flexible funding for anticipatory action and coordinated approaches to resilience building are paramount to break the cycle of year on year chronic and acute vulnerability, particularly among rural communities.”
According to the new FAO model, investments must be redirected towards more long-term, comprehensive approaches to sustainable water and food security.
In 2023, it will still be crucial to use a scaled-up multisectoral approach to save lives and protect livelihoods as the effects of the drought in the Horn of Africa are still being felt. The current state of affairs highlights the urgent need to significantly scale up investments and policies for disaster risk reduction and resilience development, underscoring the critical role that agriculture plays in ensuring a sustainable future for the people of Eastern Africa.