Somalia: FAO representative in Somalia Warns food crisis could become famine this year

Mogadishu, 2 February 2017 - Normally, I deliver a few words on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to follow the Humanitarian Coordinator’s statement on the latest FSNAU/FEWS NET seasonal assessment. But today I am making a joint statement for these are not normal times. This latest report tells us that we risk famine in several areas of Somalia in the coming months. The warning could not be clearer and it could not be more stark.
What worries most is the (1) projected speed of deterioration, (2) the scale – in terms of number of people at risk – (3) the geography and (4) the very real risk of a significant worsening in coming weeks and months. For this reason, my statement today is a joint one, delivered on behalf of the three UN agencies most involved in food and nutrition security emergencies in Somalia, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, the World Food Programme and UNICEF. The heads of both UNICEF and WFP are with me today. I know too that NGO colleagues in the NGO Consortium for Somalia stand by the main points in this statement.

Today’s FSNAU/FEWSNET report shows us that we are facing a very real risk of famine in the second half of 2017, particularly in Bay and many parts of Puntland. But the risk includes other areas too, notably Galmudug, Bakool and elsewhere across the country.

Our collective response must be immediate and massive in scale. It must span prevention, mitigation and life-saving. Preventative action in rural areas can halt the growth of famine risk, providing the most vulnerable livestock owners and farmers with cash, water, food and keeping their animals alive. Mitigation will reduce the scale of potential crisis. Urgent support in nutrition, health support, food supply and WASH will reduce the depth of crisis. And vital life saving support will keep those facing famine and death alive.

Our collective response will be built around these three pillars and must be implemented “as one” if it is to be successful and it must be implemented as one.

The early warning we have been given could not be clearer. We have it within our grasp to avert catastrophe, to avert famine in Somalia today. International partners, Somali civil society and government at regional and federal levels must work together to avert the risk of famine.

FAO, WFP and UNICEF, along with many other key partners, are already in full emergency mode, reprogramming existing resources and preparing for a huge operational step-up. If we respond now, it is manageable, at full stretch, but can be done.

We applaud and welcome those donors who are already making significant resources available.
Rarely has it been truer to say that early action will save lives.

Thank you.
Richard Trenchard, FAO Representative in Somalia

For more information, please contact:

Chi Lael, Communications Officer,, +254 715 894 825