Humanitarian agencies need $2.6 billion to help some 7.6 million people in Somalia this year, the UN and its partners announced Wednesday.After five consecutive bad rainy seasons that devastated the country, Somalia is currently experiencing the longest and most severe drought in its history.
Some 8.25 million people, nearly half the population, are in need of immediate assistance and protection, the UN warns.
The multilateral cooperation agency and its partners are warning that famine is a strong possibility from April to June and beyond if humanitarian assistance is not sustained and if the next rains are insufficient.
“The efforts of local communities and the scaling up of humanitarian assistance have prevented famine thresholds from being crossed in 2022, but millions of lives remain at stake,” says Adam Abdelmoula, UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
According to the UN, the drought, which is also affecting parts of Kenya and Ethiopia, is the worst in four decades.
The Horn of Africa has become hotter and drier as a result of climate change, and at least 36.4 million people in the region need emergency assistance to survive, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
In Somalia alone, more than 1.4 million people have been displaced and at least 3.5 million livestock have died, destroying livelihoods and reducing children’s access to milk.
“The people of Somalia are paying the price for a climate emergency that they did little to create,” says Salah Jama, Deputy Prime Minister of the Federal government of Somalia.
Although technical famine thresholds have not been reached, OCHA argued that the situation in Somalia is extremely alarming, as prolonged and extreme conditions have resulted in higher-than-normal deaths.
Hunger expected to increase
Meanwhile, amid an expected reduction in humanitarian funding, some 8.3 million Somalis are likely to experience high levels of acute food insecurity between April and June, the UN says, noting that this includes more than 727,000 people likely to face catastrophic conditions.
In addition, it says, about eight million people lacked access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene services.
Cases of cholera and measles have increased, as has acute malnutrition, while conflict and insecurity continue to create needs and impede humanitarian access.
In the past year, the UN says humanitarian organisations, local communities and government authorities have stepped up their response and reached 7.3 million people, but they are now calling for additional resources and unhindered access to those in need.
“Federal and state governments, local communities, the private sector and the Somali diaspora are working with the international community to help the most vulnerable people in the areas of greatest need,” says Mr. Jama.
He urges all partners to support these life-saving efforts.
The UN Humanitarian Coordinator also calls on more donors to “step up and accelerate their support,” warning that any delay in assistance is really a matter of life and death.
“We must also invest in livelihoods, resilience, infrastructure development, climate adaptation and durable solutions to break the cycle of chronic and recurrent humanitarian crises in Somalia and ensure that affected people can adapt and thrive,” he points out.