MOGADISHU, June 6 – Somalia’s crippling drought, the worst in at least 40 years, has forced more than half a million people to abandon their homes in search of food and water in the past four months, mothers terrified at the thought of losing their children as well, Save the Children said today.
The country is experiencing its fourth straight season of failed rains, with heartbreaking effects for families and children, raising fears of a repeat of the 2011 famine that killed more than a quarter of a million people, half of them children less than five years old. Experts warn that there is now a credible risk that the next rainy season from October to December will also fail, further worsening the already severe humanitarian emergency.
With prolonged drought combined with insufficient humanitarian funding, globally disrupted supply chains and soaring food prices due to conflict in Ukraine, mothers in the country tell Save the Children they are unable to feed their children and fear for their lives.
Suad*, 55, farmer, lives in a camp in the Sanaag region. She arrived at the camp four weeks ago with her seven children and disabled mother after drought killed her livestock.
Suad told Save the Children that the previous drought in 2017 devastated her livestock. At the time, she owned 400 cows and goats and only had two left, although she was able to salvage a few. Now the drought has left her with almost nothing, and this time she fears she won’t be able to salvage what’s left of her pastoral way of life.
She said: “The drought has brought despair. I don’t know what will become of us. I can’t feed my family, I feel helpless. How can you provide for your children when you have lost your livelihood? It is a very difficult time, we are all on the move in search of a better life.
Sitting across from her mother, 12-year-old Samia* said: “If it was raining, life would be so different. I wouldn’t need to fetch water and I would have more time for my studies.
The number of new arrivals to Hargeisa camps from drought-affected areas is increasing every day, Save the Children said. Saud is one of 524,000 people in Somalia who have been forced to abandon their homes in search of food and water over the past four months. Across Somalia, 6 million people suffer from extreme hunger, with more than 81,000 living in near-famine conditions. The UN estimates that 1.4 million children could suffer from acute malnutrition by the end of this year if the deterioration of the situation is not resolved.
As the threat of famine looms, with estimates suggesting next month, the UN warns, an urgent and timely increase in humanitarian aid is needed to avert death and devastation for families across Somalia.
Mohamud Mohamed, Country Director for Save the Children in Somalia, said:
“We saw this coming. A two-year drought in Somalia and the Horn of Africa that has decimated crops and livestock and eroded people’s ability to cope as mothers face the stark choice of putting their starving children to sleep. Malnutrition rates among children are rising steadily and the UN has warned that up to 350,000 children could die by summer if we do not act and yet the window of opportunity to act and avert catastrophe is shrinking day by day.
We call on governments and the international community to do the right thing and prevent the suffering of millions of people and the possible death of thousands of people because of this climate-induced hunger. A localized response that aims to save lives and livelihoods must be prioritized, including supporting local food production, protecting the poorest and making food affordable.
Save the Children is working to help affected communities in Somalia cope with the immediate humanitarian effects of the drought. We provide emergency water supplies, treat malnourished children, support education systems so children don’t miss out on vital learning when displaced by drought, run health facilities and provide food. money and support for the livelihoods of the most vulnerable.