Famine conditions are no longer present in Somalia, largely due to the on-going delivery of aid under extremely difficult conditions and the exceptional harvest at the beginning of the year. The humanitarian situation, however, is still critical. Over 2.51 million people remain in crisis, unable to fully meet their basic needs without assistance. Among the 1.5 million Somalis who are no longer in crisis, almost 1.29 million are in a stressed food security situation (“Phase Two” of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification). They will risk sliding back into crisis without sustained assistance. Mortality and malnutrition rates in Somalia have improved dramatically, but remain among the highest in the world. An estimated 323,000 children are acutely malnourished, representing 22% of all under-five children.
The mid-year review undertaken by the Humanitarian Country Team for Somalia in May and June highlights that we must build on the gains made since famine was declared in July 2011 or they could be reversed. To prevent future shocks from developing into humanitarian catastrophes, we are asking donors to support our strategy to provide life-saving assistance to millions of Somalis and build sustainable livelihoods.
Even as this report was being prepared in June 2012, the latest data on the April-to-June Gu rains showed that the humanitarian situation will likely deteriorate further before recovery is possible. In most parts of southern Somalia and part of central Somalia, the rains underperformed: they began late and were poorly distributed over both time and space. Gu crop harvests in southern and central agropastoral and inland rain-fed cropping areas consequently are expected to be below average and delayed until August. As a result, the number of people in need will likely increase during the second half of the year.
Even in normal seasons, Somalia produces less than half of its cereal requirements and is heavily dependent on imports and humanitarian food supplies. With the provisional cereal balance sheet for 2012 already indicating a deficit of about 200,000 metric tonnes, sustained humanitarian assistance will be crucial to ensure adequate access to food, particularly for the estimated 1.36 million IDPs, the urban poor and agropastoral communities who are all highly dependent on food purchases.
Conflict and lack of access to people in need remained major operational challenges in the first half of the year, especially in the south where more than 70% of those urgently needing assistance are located. The obstacles humanitarians faced included: the suspension or expulsion of many humanitarian agencies from Al Shabaab-controlled areas; insecurity, including detentions and killings of aid workers; ambiguity over who was in charge of local administrations when power changed hands; and impositions on humanitarian agencies or other interference with their work. Increased military operations in the southern and central regions of Somalia in the last months of 2011 and the first half of 2012 resulted in new displacement. Most of the displacement in Gedo, Lower Juba, Bay, Bakool and Hiraan regions was localized and temporary. The African Union Peacekeeping Mission in Somalia/Transitional Federal Government military offensive in the Afgooye corridor displaced over 90,000 people to Mogadishu and other areas. However, access improved in Mogadishu and western parts of Somalia, including in Gedo region and Dhobley in the Lower Juba region.
Despite the challenges, humanitarian actors proved that they could adapt and deliver to people in need, reaching an average of 950,000 people per month with food assistance, vouchers and cash responses. More than 256,414 children (175,469 moderately malnourished and 80,945 severely malnourished) were reached with nutritional services. Around 2.6 million people received primary and basic secondary health outreach services, and 1.13 million people were provided with sustainable access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. Around 473,000 internally displaced people were assisted with emergency assistance packages.
In response to the changes in the humanitarian context, the humanitarian community dropped the reference to “famine” from its strategic priorities during the mid-year revision. Nonetheless, the strategic priorities largely remain unchanged. This reflects the enormous needs on the ground, as well the recognition that we must redouble efforts to build up Somalis’ ability to cope with future shocks in the aftermath of the famine. The strategy focuses on providing life-saving assistance to people in crisis and emergency (Integrated Phase Classification Phases Three and Four), with special emphasis on households with malnourished children; resilience-building through livelihood support, especially for the “stressed” populations; provision of integrated basic services to vulnerable populations; and strengthening the protective environment for civilian populations. The approach to assistance will be multi-sectoral and efforts will be made to scale up humanitarian and resilience-building interventions in areas that become more accessible.
Underlining the importance of producing a realistic and implementable plan for the rest of the year, the Humanitarian Country Team based its revised appeal on the needs of the Somali people and humanitarian organizations’ capacity to deliver, recognizing the prevailing access challenges in parts of Somalia. The initial consolidated appeal 2012 requested US$1.52 billion. The revised appeal requests $1.16 billion to address the needs of 3.8 million people, comprising the 2.51 million people in crisis and emergency, and the 1.29 million who are in a stressed food security situation. Half (49.5%) of the requirements have already been provided, leaving an unmet requirement of $588 million.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.