The efforts of national and local Authorities and the scale up of humanitarian assistance to respond to the impact of the longest and most severe drought in Somalia’s recent history has prevented famine thresholds from being surpassed, for the time being.
The situation remains extremely serious, however, and humanitarian assistance must be sustained over time and improved, as famine is a strong possibility from April to June 2023 and beyond if assistance is not sustained and if the 2023 April to June rains underperform as current forecasts indicate.
“The collective scale-up of humanitarian assistance, including Somali capacities, has prevented food insecurity and acute malnutrition from reaching Famine (IPC Phase 5). As of October, humanitarian partners have reached about 6.8 million people with life-saving assistance,” said Adam Abdelmoula, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
Earlier projections of famine between October and December 2022 among rural agro-pastoralists in Baidoa and Buur Hakaba districts and displaced people in Baidoa town in Bay Region have not materialized, but the underlying crisis has not improved, and even more appalling outcomes are only temporarily averted, according to the 13 December IPC Analysis. These same populations remain extremely vulnerable, with Mogadishu IDPs joining their ranks. Prolonged and extreme conditions have resulted in higher-than-normal deaths, and excess mortality will continue to accumulate unless assistance is further scaled up and sustained in crucial sectors.
“Even without a famine declaration, the situation is extremely alarming,” said Mr. Abdelmoula. “The scale and severity of the emergency are expanding as displacement continues unabated, food and water prices remain high, critical gaps in the response persist and as the current rains have been poor and insufficient for replenishing water sources and sustaining grazing fields for livestock. All indicators point to one conclusion: humanitarian assistance must be sustained and improved to prevent further loss of life and suffering.”
The number of people affected by the drought in Somalia has more than doubled this year, from 3.2 million in January to 7.8 million in October, with the severity of needs increasing proportionately.
Displacement caused by drought increased more than fivefold to almost 1.3 million people in the same period. While famine has been averted in the current period, 8.3 million people are expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse levels of food insecurity between April and June 2023, including more than 700,000 people facing famine conditions or Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) amid an anticipated reduction in humanitarian assistance due to limited funding availability. With Somalia in its fifth consecutive season of poor rains and below-average rainfall projected in the April to June 2023 rainy season, needs across Somalia will persist well beyond mid-2023.
The 2022 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), which seeks $2.27 billion to meet the needs of 7.6 million people has a shortfall of over $1 billion as of 13 December.
“We thank donors for their generosity to date and appeal for immediate additional and flexible funding to enable a further scale-up and improvement of humanitarian operations,” said Mr. Abdelmoula.
“Together we have averted famine, albeit temporarily. We can and must make sure that this becomes a sustained reality for the people of Somalia.’’