Hunger Threatens Somalia
By Mwakera Mwajefa
Somalia, one of the Horn of Africa countries, is facing a worsening humanitarian crisis ranging from about 6.7 million people hungry, over four million livestock dead, 32 to 75 per cent of cereal harvest failed, an increase in food prices to flooding in several areas.
Currently, the country is experiencing worst food crisis in 40 years largely because of climate change that has witnessed two desert locust infestations, five failed rains and heightened insecurity.
According to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) the crisis has led to the internal displacement of more than 3.6 million people since 2021. Many of these internally displacement people (IDP) have find refuge in Banadir, Southeastern Somalia that currently hosts over 800,000 people.
One of the more than 265,000 IDPs settled in one of the Baidoa’s camp, Bare, 47, of nine children complained of the effects of climate change to his farmland and livestock.
“The drought destroyed our crops and killed the few animals we had. We migrated here in search of food and water. It took my family 30 days to get here. Soon after we arrived, my wife, who was weak and sick due to hunger, died,” he says. His story is one that can be heard in several places as many people are dying.
The CARE’s deputy country director for programs, UmmyDubow, says the drought caused over 43000 deaths in 2022 with half of these recorded among children younger than five years.
“The response to the crisis was slow and now there’s a lot more that needs to be done in order to save lives. With about 1.8 million children suffering from malnutrition and millions more going hungry, we continue to call on donors to not forget Somalia. The time for inaction has passed. We must ensure all sectors are funded to alleviate the suffering of so many,”he adds.
Like many others, Bare’s life has entirely changed. “I am now playing the role of both parents; I care for all the nine children alone. I do not have a job or any source of income. I stay home, cook food for my children, and fetch water for them. I clean their clothes,” Bare said.
CARE in Somalia works with a local partner, GREDO, in several camps like the one Bare is in, providing water, sanitation, and hygiene services,education in emergencies for drought-displaced children, and food and income support in the form of cash assistance.
Through a network of 92 health facilities and 82 mobile health sites, CARE provides lifesaving treatment for acute malnutrition and communicable diseases and ensures access to safe maternal and child healthcare.
More needs to be done in Somalia to resolve the immediate humanitarian needs of the communities. It will require a comprehensive and concerted approach by all.
As governments and donors plan to meet for the Horn of Africa Pledging conferenceon 24th May 2023 in New York, CARE is calling upon attendants to not only pledge but also avail funding to support the Somalia Humanitarian Response which is currently only 23.4 per cent funded.
CARE in Somalia has programs in 12 out of the 18 regions involved in screening and treating 38,124 pregnant mothers and children below five years for acute malnutrition and provided healthcare consultations to 63,979 outpatients in response to the rise in drought-related diseases.
Others are distribution of 41,307 household hygiene kits; disbursed unconditional cash assistance to 162,993 individuals to enable them to meet immediate family needs; provision of clean water to 476,394 individuals through rehabilitation of 60 high-yield boreholes and emergency water trucking; 14,939 people reached with protection services while 531,000 students reached through education in emergency programs.
Since the beginning of the Gu rainy season in March this year, flooding has affected 100,000 people and killed at least 23 countrywide. Baardheere district (Jubaland state) has been the most affected, with 78,000 people affected and 21 killed.
The floods have damaged 1,000 hectares of farmland, 200 latrines, six health facilities, and four schools that lost learning materials and disrupting education for 3,000 children.
Floodwaters have also killed or swept away more than 1,700 livestock in Somaliland and Puntland states, compounding previous drought-related livestock losses.
The rains have resulted into inadequate access to WASH facilities and the possible contamination of water sources could worsen current outbreaks of acute watery diarrhoea and cholera.
Some IDPs in Banadir region and Hirshabelle, Puntland, and Southwest states face secondary displacement after the floods damaged their makeshift shelters.
Stagnant floodwaters and damaged roads have made some areas, such as IDP sites in Baidoa town and parts of Dhuusamareeb town, inaccessible. The affected populations urgently need food, shelter, WASH, and NFIs.
Again clan disputes, political tensions, national and foreign military campaigns against Al Shabaab, and its continuing attacks targeting civilians not only cause insecurity and instability but is also a threat across parts of southern Somalia, particularly rural areas.