AP – The United Nations (UN) humanitarian chief predicted on Tuesday that at least USD1 billion will be needed urgently to avert famine in Somalia in the coming months and early next year when two more dry seasons are expected to compound the historic drought that has hit the Horn of Africa nation.
Martin Griffiths said in a video briefing from Somalia’s capital Mogadishu that a new report from an authoritative panel of independent experts says there will be a famine in Somalia between October and December “if we don’t manage to stave it off and avoid it as had been the case in 2016 and 2017”.
The undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs told UN correspondents that more than USD1 billion in new funds is needed in addition to the UN appeal of about USD1.4 billion.
That appeal has been “very well-funded”, he said, thanks to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which announced a USD476 million donation of humanitarian and development aid in July.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, created by USAID, said in a report on Monday that famine is projected to emerge later this year in three areas in Somalia’s southeastern Bay region, including Baidoa without urgent humanitarian aid.
Up to 7.1 million people across Somalia need urgent assistance to treat and prevent acute malnutrition and reduce the number of ongoing hunger-related deaths, according to a recent analysis by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification or IPC, used by the network to describe the severity of food insecurity.
The Horn of Africa region has seen four straight failed rainy seasons for the first time in over half a century, endangering an estimated 20 million people in one of the world’s most impoverished and turbulent regions.
Griffiths said meteorologists have predicted the likelihood of a fifth failed rainy season from October to December, and a sixth failed rainy season from January to March next year is also likely.
“This has never happened before in Somalia,” he said. “This is unprecedented.”
Many Somalis raise livestock, which is key to their survival, but he said three million animals have died or been slaughtered because of the lack of rain. “Continued drought, continued failure of rainy seasons, means that a generation’s way of life is under threat.”