The Somalia Famine of 2011-2012
By: Daniel Maxwell, Jeeyon Janet Kim, Nisar Majid
The Somalia famine of 2011 was the first instance of actual famine in nearly a decade, and by far the worst famine of the 21st Century. In retrospect the disaster should never have reached the severity of a famine. But fundamentally, the famine developed as the result of a major drought, rapid food price inflation and conflict, but also from the lack of an adequate preventive response from either Somali authorities or the international humanitarian community. The factors that led to this response failure revolved primarily around the fact that a “terrorist” or proscribed group controlled much of the affected area, and counter-terrorism legal constraints outweighed humanitarian concerns in policy considerations—meaning that both access and funding were extremely constrained up to the point that an outright famine was declared. This paper reviews the main lessons learned from this crisis.