$710m needed for drought response.
Averting the impact of drought on public health.
Somalia continues to intensify efforts to stop spread of polio.
Interview with UN WFP Country Director and Representative.
Comparison of funding levels 2017-2019.
$710m needed for drought response
As Somalia experienced a failure of the initial portion of the Gu’ rains that are crucial for agricultural production, aid agencies have launched a Drought Response Plan calling for urgent and sustained resources to avert a major crisis. The plan seeks $710 million to provide critical life-saving aid to 4.5 million people in the most severely-affected areas from now until the end of the year.
The combined impact of the initial failure of the 2019 Gu’ rains (April-June), which followed a poor 2018 Deyr season (October-December), and abnormally dry conditions during the 2019 Jilaal season (January-March), has caused widespread crop failure and a decline in livestock productivity, rapidly pushing communities in the worst-affected areas into a food insecurity Crisis (IPC 3), or worse. While the rains in May have rebounded to a degree, which will assist with water availability and the livestock sector, the 2019 Gu’ is a second consecutive below-average rainy season, in a country still recovering from a prolonged drought in 2016-17. Except the 2018 Gu’, every rainy season since late 2015 has been below average, leading to increased vulnerability and decreased coping ability. This year’s Gu’ season is the third driest on record since the early 1980s.
The number of people in the Crisis and Emergency levels of food insecurity is projected to reach 2.2 million by July, if aid is not scaled up. This is more than 40 per cent higher than the projection in January. Overall, 5.4 million people will be food insecure by July. Although Gu’ rainfall in May improved in some areas, the rains have generally performed worse than the predicted average-to-near average for May. Many areas have experienced torrential rains in abbreviated period, which do not assist agricultural production but have led to flash flooding and deaths in some instances. FAO-FSNAU estimates up to 50 per cent decline in this year’s harvest.
Severe acute malnutrition rates among children are increasing rapidly, mainly among internally displaced persons (IDPs). This, coupled with a serious lack of access to clean water, is heightening the risk of outbreaks from water-borne diseases, exacerbating existing fragilities. Drought is also driving displacement and worsening protection challenges, particularly for women and children, as families lose their socio-economic safety nets. So far this year, 53,000 people have been displaced by drought, adding to the estimated 2.6 million internally displaced Somalis, 80 per cent of whom live in urban areas, where they face serious risks of eviction, marginalization and exclusion.
The number of people in crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity or worse is projected to reach 2.2 million by July. “The drought in Somalia has deteriorated rapidly and intensified much earlier than seen over the last decade. Somalia is at a critical juncture, but with sufficient resources, we can reactivate the structures that successfully averted famine in 2017,” said Mr George Conway, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. “As we continue to work under the leadership of Somali authorities to rebuild resilience and address the underlying causes of such recurrent crises, it is now critical that everyone, including donors, the private sector, Somalis in-country and in the diaspora, rallies behind these collective response and prevention efforts,” he added.
The drought threatens to reverse the gains made in 2018. An immediate scale-up of the humanitarian response is required to mitigate the effects of the drought, which threatens to drive Somalia into a major humanitarian crisis. The scale-up should be complemented by development efforts (through the government’s Resilience and Recovery Framework), to ensure that Somalia is better prepared to face future shocks. The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, which sought $1.08 billion for the year, was only 20 per cent funded by the end of May. The appeal has since been superseded by the Drought Response Plan (DRP) requirement of $710m for June through December 2019. The resources are so inadequate that it isn’t that activities can’t scale up, but that response is actually being scaled back in some areas. The scale-back impacts several drought-affected areas, which then contributes to more displacement.
The recurrent climatic shocks are a stark reminder that Somalia is becoming increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. To address the drivers of the crisis, greater investment is needed to strengthen the nexus between humanitarian action and development programming. Urgent life-saving responses must be ramped up, but without losing sight of the fact that development efforts are critical to reaching the goal of ultimately ending the negative impact of these cycles.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.