This week, the humanitarian community’s expert Famine Review Committee projected that parts of Somalia will likely experience famine between October and December without significant expansion of assistance. The United States is gravely concerned by this dire projection and the significant scale of need throughout the country and region.
This likely famine is the result of a combination of factors. Climate change continues to wreak havoc on the region, including the worst drought in the Horn of Africa in 70 years. The region has yet to recover from the devasting effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. On top of this, Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine increased the cost of food, fertilizer, and fuel, further exacerbating humanitarian needs and making assistance more expensive, thus limiting its reach.
An official declaration of famine is relatively rare, and takes place when people experience critical acute malnutrition, starvation, and death. It can be prevented by timely assistance at scale. The United States has rapidly ramped up relief efforts to provide emergency assistance, including food to over 3.5 million people per month, vital malnutrition treatment, rapid response to disease outbreaks, provision of shelter and protection services, and ensuring communities have safe drinking water, sanitation, and improved hygiene.
U.S. funding to address drought in Somalia is more than $706 million this fiscal year alone, representing more than half of all humanitarian funding for Somalia to date in 2022. Sadly, we have not yet seen additional donors step up with further significant contributions, and assistance has not met the rising levels of need. It is imperative that the international community acts immediately in order to save lives and prevent this projection from becoming reality.