More than 1.4 million children in Somalia, nearly half of the country’s under-five population, are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition due to the ongoing drought that has left 4.1 million people on the brink.
According to the latest Somalia Food Security and Nutrition Assessment released last week, about a quarter of the 1.4 million children, equivalent to 329,500 children, will suffer from severe malnutrition this year.
“We know that humanitarian emergencies of this magnitude disproportionately affect children,” said UNICEF Representative Angela Kearney. “The numbers we are seeing this year are quite high and unless urgent measures are taken, thousands of children are at risk of dying.”
Three consecutive seasons of failed rains combined with ongoing conflicts in many parts of Somalia have left a quarter of the population needing immediate food assistance. Without urgent scaling up of assistance, the humanitarian situation among the urban and rural poor and displaced populations is expected to deteriorate further between now and June 2022.
The impact on pastoralist communities is especially dire. A critical shortage of water has forced families to migrate to urban and peri-urban centres in search of water for both human and livestock consumption, adding to the 2.9 million people who were already displaced by conflict and climate change. Since November last year, water prices in some of the worst affected areas have risen by as much as 72 per cent.
Although large-scale humanitarian support by the government and other partners since July 2021 has largely mitigated the magnitude of the crisis, projected moderate rainfall during the next rainy season (April-June 2022) is likely to compound the food and nutrition situation.
UNICEF is urgently appealing for US$7 million before the end of March 2022 to procure 104,000 cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) for the treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition. A potential break in the supplies pipeline could result in a serious shortage of RUTF from June 2022 onwards and imperil the lives of more than 100,000 children.