Joint FAO-OCHA-UNICEF-WFP press release on the drought emergency in Somalia – Somalia

Somalia faces starvation conditions as a perfect storm of poor rains, soaring food prices and huge funding shortfalls leave almost 40% of Somalis on the brink. |

Mogadishu – Millions of Somalis are at risk of spiraling into famine as the impact of a prolonged drought continues to destroy lives and livelihoods, and growing needs outstrip the resources available for humanitarian aid, warned today United Nations agencies

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) call for an immediate injection of funds to allow an intensification of vital assistance in Somalia. This follows the release of a new Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report which found that six million Somalis, almost 40% of the population, are now facing extreme levels of food insecurity, with pockets of famine conditions likely in six regions of the country.

This represents a nearly doubling of the number of people facing extreme levels of acute food insecurity due to drought and related shocks since the start of the year. This reflects a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation as millions of Somalis have exhausted their capacity to cope with the crisis and lack of funding means humanitarians will not be able to meet the needs of the growing number of people facing an emergency situation.

“The projection of the risk of famine in six places is extremely worrying and should serve as a very serious warning if we really want to say ‘never again’ after 2011. The reality is that time is not on our side and many more Lives and livelihoods are doomed to be lost should further funding delays occur,” said Adam Abdelmoula, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General, Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. “I therefore continue to call on the authorities and our partners in to act decisively and help scale up resources to meet rapidly increasing needs, save more lives and save more livelihoods for the people of Somalia,” Mr. Abdelmoula added.

Collectively, aid agencies provided humanitarian aid to almost two million people in February 2022, but a critical gap in donor funding means they cannot sustain and scale up their support to meet growing needs. If this gap is not addressed urgently, it will contribute to worse outcomes with a real risk of widespread starvation. The last time such a humanitarian tragedy hit Somalia was in 2011, when starvation conditions killed a quarter of a million people.

“The funding we need to respond to a crisis of this magnitude simply did not come. We are all watching this tragedy unfold and our hands are tied,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, FAO Representative in Somalia. “I want to emphasize that it is not too late. The funding received today can still prevent the worst, but it must be at scale and very soon,” he said.

Children under five are among the most vulnerable as the drought worsens, and access to food and milk is very scarce due to rising commodity prices and livestock losses . About 1.4 million children will face acute malnutrition until the end of this year, of which about a quarter of them, or 330,000 children, will face severe acute malnutrition.

“Children’s lives are at risk. If the funding gap is not closed, malnutrition rates will continue to soar and children could face severe malnutrition and preventable diseases. Losing children to famine would be a loss to humanity,” said Angela Kearney, UNICEF Representative in Somalia: “Tackling drought-related indicators now will also dramatically increase a child’s future opportunities.

Gaps in the Funding Pipeline

The drought response is severely underfunded, leaving many Somalis without assistance. The 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan which targets US$1.5 billion is only 4.4% funded as Somalia competes with other global emergencies for funding.

As the hunger and nutrition crisis rapidly worsens, the gap between food insecurity and available resources is widening. The inability of UN agencies, funds and programs to respond to growing needs means prioritizing humanitarian needs and making the difficult decision of who receives aid and who does not.

“We are literally about to start taking food from the hungry to feed the hungry,” said WFP Somalia Representative and Country Director El-Khidir Daloum. “Being forced to prioritize our limited resources could not have come at a worse time, as we are on the cusp of a humanitarian disaster in Somalia. This is a year of unprecedented humanitarian need and famine, but I implore the world not to turn its back on Somalia or wait until it is too late. Millions of lives are at stake.”

A perfect storm for famine

According to a recent analysisconducted by FAO’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and its technical partners, three factors will contribute to the entrenchment of famine in the country over the next three months – failure of the rainy season from April to June 2022, the absence of adequate humanitarian assistance and a continuing upward trend in food prices. With below-average rainfall forecasts, insufficient funding, globally disrupted supply chains and commodity price spikes due to the conflict in Ukraine, Somalia faces a perfect storm that could very quickly lead to starvation.

For a famine to be declared in an area, at least 20% of the population must be experiencing Disaster (IPC Phase 5) conditions. FSNAU and its partners have identified potential famine hotspots in six different regions where 5-10% of the population, or approximately 81,000 people, are already facing famine conditions. In this scenario, the affected areas face extreme food shortages, high malnutrition and excess mortality due to famine.

FAO, OCHA, UNICEF and WFP are seriously concerned about the worsening drought and the possibility of famine within the next three months. With current funding shortfalls, bleak rainfall forecasts and rising food prices around the world, agencies are calling for immediate funding to scale up humanitarian assistance in the hardest hit parts of the country.


Will Swanson, Senior Communications Specialist
Office: FAO Somalia
Telephone: +254 729 806 159

Angela Kearney, Representative
UNICEF Somalia Office
Telephone: +252 618 900 281

Anjichi, Truphosa Kodumbe
Humanitarian Reporting and Public Information Officer OCHA Somalia
Telephone: +254 722 839 182

Name: Petroc Wilton, Communications Manager
WFP Somalia
Telephone: +254 0110 909 484

Gemma Snowdon, Communications Officer
WFP Rome
Telephone: +39 342 756 4238

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