Thousands at risk of dying in drought-stricken Somalia

At least 20,000 children at risk of dying in drought-stricken Somalia
2 min read
30 June, 2017
The number of severe acute malnutrition cases have skyrocketed in nearly half of the nine districts assessed.
Drought-related diseases like cholera have also been persistently high across Somalia [Getty]

More than 20,000 children across nine districts in Somalia risk starving to death in a few months unless the international community continues to provide life-saving aid to the drought-stricken country, an aid organisation has warned.

“The lack of food and rising numbers of severely malnourished children are distressing, to say the least," said Hassan Noor Saadi, Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia.

The number of severe acute malnutrition cases – the most dangerous form of hunger – have skyrocketed in nearly half of the nine districts assessed, according to new survey results released by the organisation. In the district of Mataban alone, 9.5 percent of children under five are now severely malnourished.

“The most recent rains have been erratic and have not performed well enough to guarantee crop growth," Saadi explained. 

"Families continue to lose what little remains of their livelihoods and livestock, leaving them with few options to provide for their children, indicating a clear risk of famine.”

A series of indicators tied to malnutrition, food supplies and mortality rates must be met for famine to be declared. The survey results show the nutrition indicator is pointing to famine-like conditions in some areas of the country.

The first half of the year saw significant levels of support from donors, which allowed us to help nearly one million vulnerable children. But these funds will soon run out, leaving millions at risk

An estimated $1.5 billion is needed to help aid agencies working on the ground save lives, of which only $550 million has been funded to date.

“The first half of the year saw significant levels of support from donors, which allowed us to help nearly one million vulnerable children. But these funds will soon run out, leaving millions at risk unless additional funding is made available," Saadi said.

“We welcome the UK government’s recent announcement to provide an additional $75 million to the response, and the US government’s ongoing commitment.

"We urge other donors to follow suit and make more funds available. Otherwise, we risk repeating the horrors of 2011, when a famine caused over 250,000 people – half of them children – to needlessly lose their lives."

Drought-related diseases like cholera have also been persistently high across the country, causing thousands of deaths and leaving already weakened children even more vulnerable.