By Fauxile Kibet
The continued drought in Somalia has left an estimated 2.2 million people in urgent need of food, the Norwegian Refugee Council has said.
The humanitarian organization said that the below average rains since last October has rapidly led to a deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Somalia.
“The humanitarian situation has deteriorated at an alarming rate as a result of the drought. Widespread crop failure and a decline in livestock productivity are pushing communities in the worst affected areas into acute food insecurity,” Victor Moses, NRC´s Country Director in Somalia said. Children are among the worst-affected and hundreds and thousands are already suffering from malnutrition.”
Moses added that there is an urgent need for funding to allow aid agencies to immediately scale up response and avoid a full-scale humanitarian disaster.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), drought conditions in the 2018/19 Deyr rainy season have led to an increase in the number of people designated as “food insecure” in Somalia since October 2018.
“The number of people in acute food insecurity crisis phase or worse (IPC 3 & 4) has spiked by ten per cent to more than 1.7 million by April, which is more than double the 2016/17 drought period and is expected to reach 2.2 million by July. Almost half of these (43 per cent) are internally displaced persons,” the UN body observes.
The United Nations also warns that the severe drought conditions currently experienced in the country are leading to further internal displacement with nearly 44,000 people estimated to have moved from rural areas into urban centres this year.
Around 2.6 million people are internally displaced across the country.
Humanitarian organizations have also reported an increase in number of admissions for the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) between January and March 2019.
“Urgent treatment is needed for some 954,000 children anticipated to be acutely malnourished in 2019, including 174,600 severely malnourished,” the NRC appeals.
The worst affected areas are in Northern and Central Somalia including Somaliland, Puntland, Mudug, Hiraan, Galgaduud and Bay regions. Since February 2019, both upstream and downstream water levels of the Shabelle and Juba rivers have remained very low.
In some areas, riverbeds have dried up completely, due to drier-than-normal weather and high temperatures.
Also, the NRC observes that more than 2.6 million Somalis are internally displaced due to armed conflict, insecurity and drought and more than 33,000 people were reported to be newly-displaced in the first quarter of 2019.
A further 4.6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance, including an estimated 2.7 million children. The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia requires $1.08 billion and is currently funded to 19 per cent so far this year.