Nearly 1.5 million children at risk of acute malnutrition as Somalia drought worsens

Severe drought had affected about 90% of Somalia’s land and a quarter of its 16 million population in March this year

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Wednesday 07 September 2022
The UN chief called for more funding to tackle the crisis. Photo: World Food Programme

Nearly 1.5 million children across Somalia will face risk of acute malnutrition by next month, warned Martin Griffiths, the under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator at the United Nations (UN).

The country is currently under severe drought and is predicted to suffer a fifth consecutive failed rainy season.

Some 1.5 million children, under five years, are anticipated to face acute malnutrition by the end of the year, including 386,400 who are likely to be severely malnourished.

Also read: Somalia drought: FAO asks for $131 million to aid relief efforts

Agricultural communities and displaced people in three areas of the Bay region of southwest Somalia could face famine between October and December, if significant humanitarian aid does not reach those affected, noted the UN statement released September 5, 2022.

A worsening drought is putting some areas in central and southern Somalia at an increased risk of famine through at least September 2022, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

A severe drought had affected about 90 per cent of Somalia’s land and a quarter of its 16 million population in March this year, stated a report by Save the Children, a non-profit.

Some 7.1 million Somalis were projected to face high acute food insecurity through September, noted the IPC.

Famine will occur in two areas in the Bay region — Baidoa and Burhakaba districts — in south-central Somalia between October and December, according to the latest Somalia Food Security and Nutrition reportThese are predominantly agro-pastoral areas where drought, conflict and high food prices have decimated people’s ability to raise livestock, grow crops and buy enough food to survive.

“Famine is at the door and we are receiving a final warning,” said Griffiths after visiting some of the worst affected regions in Somalia. Griffiths described Baidoa as the epicentre of the humanitarian crisis where children are so malnourished that they can barely speak.

In Banadir, not far from Mogadishu, medical teams struggle to keep up with the rush of emaciated children seeking treatment. Somalia is reeling from conflict and instability, worsening hunger and restricted aid supply. These conditions are expected to last through at least March 2023.

The UN chief called for more funding to tackle the crisis. The World Food Programme announced that it is delivering more food aid to Somalia than ever before and it is aiming to provide 4.5 million in the coming months.

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