Published May 7, 2014 – by Anne-Marie Schryer-Roy
2.9 million Somalis are in humanitarian crisis
50,000 children are severely malnourished and at death’s door
Women in Somalia face the second highest risk of maternal death in the world and babies are at the highest risk of dying on the day of their birth
1.1 million people are displaced within their own country
Polio has returned, with 193 cases recorded in the last year
Just 30% of the population has access to clean drinking water
Fewer 1 in 4 people have access to adequate sanitation facilities
1 in 7 children are acutely malnourished
The sad truth is that these statistics from Somalia are better than previous years, so this is celebrated as a success. But “better” is not the same as “success” in a context where most aspects of everyday life fall far below acceptable living standards.
We should measure progress against minimum standards, not gains made against an already terrible situation. With a third of the population in need of aid, Somalia is clearly in severe crisis. Neither should we compare degrees of desperation across countries. It is not right, for example, to pit Syria against Somalia and claim one deserves more attention. We should be working to reach and maintain minimum standards globally giving adequate attention to all crises at all times.
Somalia presents a unique and challenging context where destabilizing factors like conflict and cyclical drought are a regular feature. While gains have been made, communities still remain only one shock away from disaster. As we learned in 2011, not heeding the warning signs of crisis in already fragile communities can lead to tragedy.
Our organisations are working on the ground and know the reality. And it’s not good. Only 12% of Somalia’s humanitarian funding needs have been met so far this year – an additional USD $822 million is still needed. Funding needs to be able to respond to uncertainty and be invested in good time. There is a very real risk that people still in need will not be reached and those already helped will fall back into crisis.
We are in a position now, to make a difference – as long as funds are available and flexible. Without action to address Somalia’s humanitarian and development needs, we are at risk of failing Somalis once more. Just because the figures may look “better”, now is not the time to be complacent.