The humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate and an elevated risk of famine persists in some parts of the country, only six years after the devastating 2011 famine led to the death of over a quarter million people, half of them children. Over 6.7 million people are estimated to be in need of protection and humanitarian assistance, more than half of the population of Somalia. Major disease outbreaks are spreading, with over 36,000 cases of Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD)/Cholera and nearly 5,700 suspected cases of measles reported since the beginning of the year. More than 680,000 people have been displaced due to drought since November 2016, including 7,000 people who have crossed into neighboring Ethiopia and Kenya. Of the 6.7 million people in need, it is estimated that more than 1.5 million are women of childbearing age and nearly 130,000 pregnant women may require urgent care.
A broad range of actors continues to step up efforts to reduce human suffering and prevent another famine. Local communities continue to provide the first line of response, with support from local and federal authorities, business leaders, national and international humanitarian partners and charities. The mobilization of resources has been unprecedented with governments, charities, youth-led social media campaigns, and Somali diaspora-led initiatives around the world.
In line with the purpose of the Grand Bargain from the World Humanitarian Summit, “to ensure that we are able to anticipate and prepare for crises, that we can deliver protection and assistance better to the most vulnerable and that we can restore opportunity and dignity to them”, donors have moved quickly to commit or pledge more than US$672 million towards the response efforts, as of 7 May. This unprecedented level of early support in the Somalia context has enabled operational agencies to rapidly reach millions of Somalis with safe water, food and medical assistance. Cash and voucher programmes have also been scaled-up with more than 1.4 million of the 3.3 million most vulnerable people in ‘Crisis’ and ‘Emergency’ (IPC Phases 3 and 4) reached in March alone. A significant scale-up of nutrition services has also taken place, with 332,000 children and women treated in March , of whom 69,000 are severely malnourished children under the age of five. To curb the large-scale outbreak of AWD/Cholera, joint rapid response teams have been deployed to some of the most hard-to-reach areas, supporting local responders in treating the sick and preventing further spreading of the disease. Livestock treatment has been significantly ramped up with 8.4 million animals reached since March, helping to prevent further destitution. These services are increasingly integrated across Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Health, Nutrition, Food Security and other sectors to gain maximum impact. However, scale-up for some sectors like Protection, Emergency Shelter/ NonFood Items (NFI), has not been achieved due to consistently low levels of funding. Humanitarian partners are utilizing a number of innovative and joined up approaches, including cash transfers, rapid response teams, and strong risk management and coordination units enabling more effective “real time management”. There is also focus on linking lifesaving actions with resilience efforts, to enable early recovery of livelihoods and longer term solutions.
The massive humanitarian scale-up has been instrumental in averting famine thus far, but the situation continues to deteriorate and the risk of famine is on the increase in worst affected areas. Results from mortality surveys conducted by the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) in April indicate increased mortality in all the surveyed areas. For rural parts of Bay region, Crude Death Rates (CDR) and Under-Five Death Rate (U5DR) were 2.43/10,000/day and 4.65/10,000/day, respectively. While the primary cause of death reported by households in Bay is diarrhea linked to AWD/Cholera, these death rates exceed the threshold for famine declaration of 2/10,000/day and 4/10,000/day, respectively. This confirms that efforts aimed at controlling the spread of AWD/cholera will need to be further stepped up and integrated with other support interventions.
While famine is only declared once all relevant indicators are at famine levels, it is clear that further scale-up is required in worst affected areas in a highly targeted manner to those people at greatest risk of death.
While Food Security and WASH are among the clusters with the greatest scale-up, they also illustrate how gaps persist and needs continue to outpace response in both accessible and hard-to-reach areas. The cost of water trucking/water voucher is extremely high with $7.5 to 8 million currently spent per month. An alarming gap persists between the 2.5 million people targeted and the 963,000 people reached in April.
A gap of nearly 1.2 million remains out of the targeted 2.9 million people in Crisis and Emergency, for improved access to food. Humanitarian partners will continue to scale-up operations in May to address these gaps. However, unless additional resources are mobilized in the coming weeks, a decrease in the number of people reached with food, water and other critical sectors will occur by June.
The 2017 Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) sought $864 million to reach 3.9 million people with life-saving protection and livelihoods support. Following deterioration in the humanitarian situation from November onwards, and the risk of famine announced in January, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) shifted from drought response to famine prevention. This shift is reflected in the Operational Plan for Famine Prevention, issued in mid-February, which seeks $825 million to reach 5.5 million people from January to June 2017.
This revised 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan reflects an extension of the scaled-up response to the end of the year, given the likelihood of below normal performance of the Gu rains. The revised HRP incorporates increased needs, related response interventions and requirements from the Operational Plan for Famine Prevention and realigns the 2017 HRP with the current level of needs. The overarching strategic objectives from the 2017 HRP remain intact, but more emphasis is now being placed on famine prevention through an integrated response across all clusters, intensified scale-up and response in rural and hard-to-reach areas as well as strengthened response to gender-based violence (GBV). To ensure that the scale-up continues to be effectively managed and led, the HCT will continue monthly reviews of the scaleup and the overall context. A full review of the response and its impact is also foreseen. As the crisis continues to evolve, another revision to this HRP may be required. These reviews will be further informed by the upcoming post-Gu (April– June) season assessment as well as a countrywide multicluster needs assessment taking place in May 2017.
This revised Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia seeks a total of $1.5 billion for humanitarian response in 2017. More than $470 million has already been made available against the HRP, with additional $202 million pledged or outside of the appeal. This leaves a gap of at least $830 million for the remainder of the year to further scale-up or sustain lifesaving assistance, protection and livelihood support for 5.5 million people.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.