An informal settlement of internally displaced  people in Somalia An informal settlement of internally displaced people in Somalia  (AFP or licensors)

Trócaire urges immediate action for food crisis in Somalia

The overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland is urging international donors to intervene to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia facing its worst drought in 40 years.

By Lisa Zengarini

Trócaire, the overseas development agency of the Catholic Church in Ireland, is calling on the international community to take urgent action for Somalia, where millions of people are on the brink of severe hunger. 

1,2 million children at risk of acute malnutrition 

According to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNA) in Somalia, approximately 1.2 million Somali children under the age of five are likely to be acutely malnourished due to the ongoing drought now affecting some 4,3 million people in the country. Over 300,000 risk dying if they don’t  receive immediate specific treatment, UNICEF reported recently

Severe drought

The food crisis has been triggered by three consecutive failed rainfall seasons,  and is expected to worsen as a result of a projected below average rainy season between April and June 2022.  Trócaire reports that an estimated 4.6 million people will face emergency-level food insecurity in the East African nation between now and May.

During a recent assessment in Luuq District in Gedo, southcentral Somalia, where the Irish charity manages the main health facility, the District Commissioner witnessed a father and his two starving children living under a tree in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp with no shelter and no food.  “These are times of great hunger. Children are the most vulnerable. There is limited access to food, and food prices are rising, predisposing families and their children to severe malnutrition,” he said.

Increase of infectious diseases 

Trócaire further sounds the alarm over the lack of clean drinking water which exposes millions of Somalis to the risk of contracting infectious diseases, with people and animals now competing for untreated water from hand-dug shallow wells and dwindling rivers.  Cases of Acute Watery Diarrhoea/Cholera, and outbreaks of measles, are on the rise in multiple drought-affected locations.

Displaced people on the rise

Water shortages have forced more Somali families to migrate to urban areas adding  to the some 2.9 million people already displaced by conflict and climate change in the country. Over 271,000 people have fled their homes, flocking to already overcrowded IDP camps.  Trócaire expects that number to rise to 1.4 million in the coming months.

As the food crisis worsens, humanitarian partners are scaling up their response by reprogramming ongoing activities. However, limited resources have led to a rapid depletion of the available funding and stocks.  On December 23,2021  humanitarian partners released the 2022 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), seeking US$1.46 billion to assist 5.5 million of the most vulnerable people.  Less than 2% of the needed funds has come from donors to date.  The Somalia NGO Consortium, of which Trocaire is a member, is therefore urging donors to intervene as soon as possible to avoid a catastrophe.

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Political instability and insecurity

The food crisis in Somalia comes while the country is grappling with political uncertainty caused by electoral impasse, and with the subsequent resurgence of attacks by the jihadist terrorist group Al Shabaab. The the Horn of Africa nation has been in turmoil since the collapse of President Siad Barre’s regime in 1991 and has been described as a ‘failed state’ characterised by ‘anarchy and disarray’.

21 February 2022, 13:37