Dry conditions continued in April with the Gu rains starting late in most of the country. Drought related displacements are reported to be increasing, compounding already elevated levels of humanitarian needs for women and children - particularly among vulnerable and marginalized communities.
The risk of severe drought, combined with delayed and chronic underfunding of the humanitarian response, could drive the country into a major humanitarian crisis, with children and women bearing the brunt of a deteriorating situation on the ground.
With UNICEF support, some 9,600 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition in April - admissions into therapeutic feeding remain upward constant, which is of concern as in previous years, admissions would noticeably decline between January and April.
In April, UNICEF mobilized its own core resources to initiate lifesaving drought response efforts, benefiting also from emergency allocations by the Somalia Humanitarian Fund. However, more is needed; UNICEF is facing a 74 per cent funding gap and remains seriously constrained in how it can scale-up to meet the growing needs of children throughout Somalia.
Situation Overview and Humanitarian Needs
Children in Somalia continue to live in one of the harshest places in the world to be a child, faced with repeated climate shocks, continued conflict, displacement and violence. Over 4.2 million people, including 2.5 million children, needed humanitarian assistance and protection. Over three million children, out of 4.9 million in the country, were estimated to be out of school, including 1.85 million school aged children who require urgent assistance. In general, the enrolment rate is 30 per cent across Somalia, and for primary school the enrolment is the same for boys and girls. There are also an estimated 2.6 million people displaced in Somalia, including over one million in the last year alone,4 with women and children representing the majority of the displaced.
The 2018 Deyr season was below average to poor in many parts of Somalia. As a result, the northeast and central regions of Somalia were impacted with significantly drier and higher than normal temperatures.5 The dry conditions continue in 2019 with the Gu rains starting late in most of the country resulting in the overall humanitarian situation worsening.
Drought related displacements are reported to be increasing in Somaliland and Puntland6 and exclusion and discrimination of women and girls, as well as socially marginalized groups, continue to exacerbate elevated levels of acute humanitarian needs. Even if the rains materialize a critical window was missed as of April/May, and a sufficient harvest season is highly unlikely. As a result, Somalia is facing a potential scenario of being once again in the grip of a severe drought, compounded by delayed and chronic underfunding of humanitarian response efforts.
The Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) was launched in January 2019 and seeks US$ 1.08 billion to provide life-saving assistance and livelihood support to 3.4 million Somalis affected by conflict, climatic shocks and displacement across the country,7 with a focus on the most vulnerable. For 2019, UNICEF is appealing for US$ 145.3 million to sustain the provision of life-saving services including critical nutrition, health, WASH, child protection and education in emergency interventions, as well as cash-based assistance for women and children in Somalia.
The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) is in the process of developing a multi-sectoral drought response plan, which will focus on lifesaving interventions for the most vulnerable from June – December 2019. The plan includes critical nutrition, health and WASH interventions, as well as highlighting the full scope of needs for children as the drought is expected to increase vulnerabilities and displacement for those most in need and translate into heightened child protection risks and loss of learning opportunities for children.