UN: Somalia's Drought May Have Killed 43K in 2022

    UN: Somalia's Drought May Have Killed 43K in 2022
    Last updated Mar 21, 2023
    Image credit: Al Jazeera and news agencies


    • More than 43K people may have died in Somalia last year from the record drought that crippled large parts of the country, according to a Somali government and UN report released on Monday. Half of the recorded deaths were among children under the age of five.[1]
    • The report estimates that the highest death rates occurred in south-central Somalia, including the Bay, Bakool, and Banadir areas — from January to December 2022.[2]
    • The drought crisis is far from over. The World Health Organization estimates that an additional 18K to 34K people will die during the first six months of 2023 from starvation in Somalia. The Somalia drought response plan needs $2.6B; so far, under 15% has been funded.[3]
    • The UN has said that half of Somalia's 17M people are in urgent need of aid after five consecutive failed rainy seasons, although parts of the country avoided a famine declaration last year which some analysts had feared.[4]
    • In addition to political instability, severe weather events, and insecurity, the drought has been exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. This conflict has led to a surge in food prices that is already making life difficult for Somalis — particularly those living in areas hit hard by the drought.[5]
    • Humanitarian groups have long warned that an official declaration of famine in Somalia may be too late. The last famine, in 2011, killed 260K people — more than half of whom died before it was officially declared.[6]


    Pro-establishment narrative

    The current humanitarian crises in Somalia and the larger Horn of Africa region are due to multiple factors — including prolonged drought, climate change, the prolonged conflict caused by an insurgency led by the al-Shabaab armed group, and soaring food prices due to the war in Ukraine. With the world's attention focused on the Ukraine war, protracted humanitarian crises have been exacerbated due to funding shortfalls. Donors need to support the continued vital work of the international humanitarian aid system.

    Establishment-critical narrative

    An estimated 60M children under five years are experiencing acute malnutrition globally, and each year 2M children die. In Somalia alone, half of all children, nearly 2M, are suffering from acute malnutrition. The international community must mount a far more effective global response overall that will break the cycle of chronic and recurrent humanitarian crises in the Horn of Africa.

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