Report: Southern Somalia May Experience Catastrophic Famine

    Report: Southern Somalia May Experience Catastrophic Famine
    Last updated Dec 15, 2022
    Image credit: fox


    • In a report released Tuesday, the UN suggested that a famine declaration in Somalia has been narrowly averted due to the response of humanitarian actors and local communities. However, the still "catastrophic" situation risks tipping into famine in southern Somalia in the coming months.[1]
    • The report suggests that 8.3M people are expected to face "crisis" or worse conditions between April-June 2023, due to "the impacts of five consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, a likely sixth season of below-average rainfall from March to June 2023, and exceptionally high food prices, exacerbated by concurrent conflict/insecurity and disease outbreaks."[2]
    • This comes as NASA has assessed that the Horn of Africa region, in general, is "experiencing the longest and most severe drought on record, threatening millions of people with starvation," with 21M people at risk of food insecurity. Human-induced warming, temperatures in the Indian Ocean, and ongoing La Niña conditions are cited as factors.[3]
    • The report suggests that the most probable scenario will see more than 700K people enter famine conditions — including in the Bay region, the town of Baidoa, and Mogadishu. However, this risk could expand to other areas if a sixth-straight rainy season fails.[4]
    • The prospect of a potential famine declaration has been viewed as a politically-charged process for months, with Somali Pres. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud reportedly concerned that such a declaration may reroute development money and potentially hamper development, investment, and conflict resolution efforts to curb al-Shabaab and ongoing violence.[5]
    • This comes as the so-called "Grain from Ukraine" initiative has begun shipments to the region to address food insecurity. A vessel with 25K tons of wheat is being prepared to transit to Somalia per Ukraine's embassy in Ethiopia.[6]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The generosity of the international humanitarian community and the UN system is all that has kept Somalia from temporarily slipping into a catastrophic famine. If a full-court press of aid isn't scaled up, early next year could be a nightmare. In a world with an unstable climate, a sixth-straight failure of the rainy season will cause mass suffering — we can and must ensure that food security is a sustained reality.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    Hot-button issues like famine declarations are always part of a complex political tapestry. The current Somali government is worried that a formal famine declaration may prompt unstable rural-to-urban migration, play into the hands of al -Shabaab, and divert international funds away from investment, development, health care, education, and climate resilience. While the global community needs to address food insecurity, it must sensitively support the holistic needs of Somalia also.

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