In Somalia and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa, people have been waiting for rain for months, sometimes for years. Some parts of the region have now experienced an unheard-of four consecutive failed rainy seasons. Unfortunately, according to the World Meteorological Organization, there is a high probability that the Horn of Africa will experience a fifth failed rainy season in October. This means another season of failed crops and millions of dead cattle, leading to hunger, malnutrition and in the most extreme cases, death.
In early September, the UN’s Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Famine Review Committee warned that without a strong upsurge of emergency humanitarian assistance, the Buur Hakaba and Baidoa districts of southern Somalia will suffer famine between October and December of this year. The threshold for a declaration of famine is high: if 20 percent of households face an extreme lack of food, if 30 percent of children suffer acute malnutrition, and if, for every 10,000 people in the region, 2 adults or 4 children will die every day due to starvation, or malnutrition and disease caused by lack of food.
“The United States is gravely concerned by [the Famine Review Committee’s] stark forecast and by the outsized scale of humanitarian need throughout the country,” said the U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power. “More than 7 million people are facing grave hunger, and many of them are facing outright starvation.”
This famine can still be avoided. “Today, a significant increase in humanitarian assistance can still help prevent mass starvation and deaths,” said Administrator Power. But “The window to prevent this famine projection from becoming a reality is closing quickly and the next several weeks are critical.”
For its part, the United States government, working through USAID, has delivered over half of all humanitarian funding for Somalia in 2022. “USAID funding for drought in Somalia has been more than $668 million this fiscal year alone, and we are prepared to do more,” said Administrator Power.
However, “No one donor or government can solve this crisis alone, which is why we urgently call on all donors – both traditional and emerging donors – to step up now to help prevent mass starvation and deaths. Waiting for a famine is not an option.”