As the Horn of Africa faces an unusually prolonged and persistent drought sequence, Somalia is particularly hard-hit. Climate change has exacerbated the frequency and severity of droughts that have now left nearly 90% of Somalia in a severe drought following three consecutive failed rain seasons, with some areas facing their driest season in 40 years. A fourth failed seasonal rain, which is highly likely, would threaten the lives and incomes of millions of pastoralists, agro-pastoralists and urban populations living in poverty.
The United Nations reports that drought in Somalia could leave over 3.8 million people without enough food by January 2022 and worse, 4.6 million people by May 2022, which would account for almost 30% of the country's population.
Daud Jiran, Mercy Corps Country Director for Somalia, says:
The level of anguish in most places where the drought has hit hard is harrowing. Many families have lost everything. Pastoralists have trekked hundreds of kilometres with their weakening animals looking for pasture. Most of their animals have died along the way, and the few left are feeding on cactuses and other plants, even though they can be toxic to livestock, as a last resort. In Lower Juba, I met women who left their husbands behind to watch over the few remaining livestock and took their children in search of support, who are now camping on the outskirts of nearby towns with no food or access to water and sanitation. They live in makeshift shelters, exposed while relying on the little help the local communities offer. It's a scramble for survival.
The warning signs are clear that the next few months will be even harsher for millions of Somali people. The international community needs to prioritise saving lives and protecting livelihoods. Support is urgently required to prevent mass starvation and death.
Mercy Corps is providing cash and food to the most affected families and water in remote villages through emergency water trucking for communities and their livestock to help prevent a worsening catastrophe.