Nigeria + 3 more

Averting Famine in Northeast Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen

News and Press Release
Originally published
View original
Women have returned to the village they fled, assessing the destruction left by Boko Haram © UNDP Nigeria

THE CRISIS Northern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are facing conflict and drought and are now approaching famine, with 20 million people near starvation in the worst preventable humanitarian crisis since World War II. UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for US$4.4 billion by July to avert “catastrophe” in parts of Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen.

Such crises are closely linked to conflict, fragility, and insecurity. The United Nations is leading efforts by humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding partners in all four countries, delivering urgent aid and building resilience among vulnerable people over the longer term.

Swift delivery of aid, combined with early recovery and emergency development work, can address and prevent famine and ensure durable peace. Building resilience to future shocks is vital: This means creating opportunities for people to quickly earn an income to support their families and ensuring basic services are restored.


5.1 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance resulting from long-term social, political, and economic exclusion, along with violent conflict. Nearly seven out of 10 people were living below the extreme poverty line before the current crisis, and farmers have been unable to plant food crops for the third consecutive year after losing tools, seeds, and livestock.

UNDP is supporting livelihoods and businesses with small grants, skills training and trade assistance; repair or rebuilding of community infrastructure such as schools, water and sanitation, and government buildings, which also creates emergency jobs; and revival of agriculture with new seeds, tools, fertilizer, and livestock.


The recovery package builds on UNDP’s interventions in the northeast that are ongoing. With support from the European Union and USAID, and the governments of Japan, Norway, and Switzerland, UNDP has achieved promising early results:

In the second half of 2016 and the beginning of 2017, a total number of 348,000 most vulnerable conflict-affected people benefited from interventions of UNDP.

  • Unconditional cash grants were provided to a total of 82,000 most vulnerable conflict-affected persons.

  • 11 schools, clinics and government buildings reconstructed providing cash-for-work to 4,000 skilled and unskilled community workers

  • 3,426 farmers (20% women) supported with agricultural inputs, farm implements and cash to restart farming activities.

  • 3,200 small business owners supported with grants, equipment or training for diversification and new skills.

  • 4.2 million people reached with radio public service announcements and dramas on peace-building and gender-based violence prevention messages.


where nearly 3 million people urgently need food and livelihoods support, UNDP and OCHA have redirected programs to the hardest hit areas. The new Somalia National Development Plan, devised last year with UNDP’s support, prioritized resilience and climate change. With OCHA, UNDP is supporting disaster preparedness in Somaliland and Puntland, working with humanitarian affairs and disaster management agencies and forming local disaster committees.


continues to provide long-term development solutions on an ongoing basis, which address the root causes of vulnerability to climate shocks, build resilience, and break the cycle of recurrent humanitarian need and emergency response.

  • The Federal Government of Somalia has developed with UNDP support a National Development Plan—the first in more than 30 years—in which resilience and climate change are key priorities.

  • UNDP has strengthened the coordination and information management capacity of two regional state disaster management bodies by deploying nationally recruited specialists and covering operational costs.

  • UNDP is helping set up disaster management institutions in four states—Galamduug, South West, HirShabelle, and Jubbaland—to facilitate long-term disaster management. UNDP has helped the Somali Government deliver water to 6,500 vulnerable households in drought-affected communities.

  • As part of an ongoing Climate Change Resilience Programme, UNDP has helped the regional Ministry of Environment in Puntland build a main water reservoir, serving 15,000 pastoralists and their livestock and providing water storage for four months.

  • In partnership with a local humanitarian actor, UNDP provided primary environmental and clean-up care in camps for internally displaced people living in camps in Baidoa, South West state, benefitting 984 households.

  • Rehabilitated in partnership between UNDP and local NGOs, water catchment facilities in Puntland have benefitted 650 households.

  • Solar panels previously supplied by UNDP have met 75% of energy needs in the main treatment centre for more than 2,000 cholera patients in Baidoa.


some 5 million people urgently need food and livelihoods assistance following severe damage to crop production, rural livelihoods, and the economy broadly because of ongoing conflict. Recovery and stabilization are needed to stop the famine from spreading to as many as 1 million more people.

UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, UNHCR, and FAO are working together to prevent the famine from spreading into other vulnerable areas—focusing on livelihoods, food security, local economic revitalization, basic services, and peace and reconciliation.

UNDP’S RESPONSE TO THE LOOMING FAMINE UNDP South Sudan, with UNICEF, FAO, UNHCR, and WFP, has championed and proactively engaged in an integrated recovery and resilience-building programme, strengthening social services for the most vulnerable, building peace, strengthening governance, and reinvigorating the local economy. The programme aims to help communities better withstand shocks and crises by:

  • Supporting women vegetable producers for enhanced nutrition by providing irrigation pumps, agricultural tools, and seeds

  • Providing emergency employment to help revive local markets and supporting small traders and businesses to incentivize food production

  • Implementing cash-for-work programmes to build feeder road networks, enhancing access to local markets

  • Diversifying livelihood options by rehabilitating the local vocational training centre; trades will focus on food- and fish-processing for adequate nutrition

  • Introducing renewable energy solutions to keep health and education facilities running, with support from local government institutions


some 17 million people—65 percent of households—are now considered “food-insecure,” as a result of ongoing conflict that has killed more than 7,600 people and injured more than 42,000. Before the conflict erupted in March 2015, Yemen depended on imports for 90 percent of its staple food but now imports are restricted. Nor do the most vulnerable people, such as widows, orphans, the disabled, and elderly, receive government-funded monthly safety net allowances any longer.

UNDP’s work will benefit:

  • 410,000 people directly and nearly 2 million indirectly, with cash-for-work programs

  • 2.5 million people through restored community services such as water and sanitation.

  • 27,000 agriculture and fishery businesses and health-care providers

  • 85,000 women and children through nutrition programs

  • 250,000 people through removal of landmines and other explosives.