Families going without food in Somalia due to drought, charity warns

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Millions are being forced out of their homes in Somalia in search of food and water as a result of the severe drought facing the country, Save the Children has warned.

The impact on families is being felt more severely this season due to the result of multiple, prolonged droughts in quick succession, a worsening security situation, desert locust infestations, soaring food prices, reduced remittances – and less money committed by donors to respond, the charity added.

A Save the Children assessment conducted in November 2021, and covering 15 of Somalia’s 18 regions, found the majority of families were now going without meals on a regular basis. Nearly 60 per cent of assessed households reported at least one person in their family had lost their source of income – largely due to the wholescale death of livestock – and over one third of households included at least one person going without food over a 24 hour period.

Somalia has experienced three major drought crises in the past decade; in 2011/12, 2016/2017, and now in 2021/22.

Save the Children’s report comes days after the UN warned that an estimated 13 million people are waking up severely hungry every day in the Horn of Africa as a result of the drought.

“Three consecutive failed rainy seasons in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, have decimated crops and caused abnormally high livestock deaths, while shortages of water and pasture are forcing families from their homes and triggering conflict between communities,” the UN explained.

“Harvests are ruined, livestock are dying, and hunger is growing as recurrent droughts affect the Horn of Africa”, said Michael Dunford, Regional Director in the WFP Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa.

Omar*, a father from a village in Beledweyne district in southern Somalia, said: “We used to feed the children three times a day, but now it’s hard to feed them even two times, so mostly it’s one meal a day.”

“We are able to survive day by day during the previous drought, but this one is drier than ever, with water being harder to find. We don’t have food, and the livestock are dying.”

“People might die in this drought, if we can’t find help.”

*Name changed to protect identity

The Horn of Africa is experiencing the driest conditions recorded since 1981, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) [Muhammed Ali Yiğit/Anadolu Agency]

The Horn of Africa is experiencing the driest conditions recorded since 1981, according to the World Food Programme (WFP) [Muhammed Ali Yiğit/Anadolu Agency]