Situated on the Horn of Africa and plagued by a history of instability, Somalia has fallen victim to crisis after crisis. Clan warfare, droughts, famines, and the presence of terror group al-Shabab have left much of the country vulnerable and without food. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Somalia:
- Most recently, hunger in Somalia has worsened due to a two-year drought. Of the country’s 12.3 million people, 6.2 million are severely food insecure. In addition, almost three million cannot reach their daily food requirements.
- This is not the first hunger crisis to occur in the country. In 2011, an estimated quarter million people died due to a severe famine.
- Somalia is not the only country currently suffering from a hunger crisis. Hunger levels worldwide are at their highest in decades. Four countries, Nigeria, South Sudan, Yemen and Somalia, are at risk of famine.
- Somalia has been attempting to gain stability since the fall of dictator Siad Barre in 1991. The country has been slowly rebuilding itself, with the establishment of a transitional government in 2012 and the election of a new president on February 8.
- Somalia has an infant mortality rate of 13.7 percent, the third highest in the world. Malnutrition is largely to blame, according to UNICEF.
- The situation is worse in rural areas, as poor rainfalls have resulted in failing crops and water shortage. As a result, nearly three-quarters of the country’s livestock has died, which harms pastoralists’ livelihoods.
- The drought has reduced maize and sorghum harvests to about 25 percent of past averages. Food prices in Somalia have reached near record levels.
- Hunger in Somalia is also high among internally displaced populations (IDPs). Approximately 638,000 of the 1,200,000 IDPs in Somalia are struggling to feed themselves. IDPs are on the move and suffer from loss of income and reduced access to social services.
- Somalia has one of the world’s lowest school enrollment rates. Just 42 percent of children and 36 percent are girls are in school. The U.N. World Food Program operates a program that provides free school meals as a way to both improve attendance and address hunger in Somalia.
- “Humanitarian assistance has saved lives in the drought-affected north over the past year, but as the crisis spreads we have no time to lose,” Laurent Bukera, country director of the U.N. World Food Program told the U.N. News Service. The U.N. issued an appeal for 2017 for $864 million to provide assistance to Somalis. The U.N. World Food Program has also put together a $26 million assistance plan.
Hunger in Somalia has a detrimental impact on communities and future generations. The conflict hinders the country’s progress toward establishing stability. However, understanding the facts and conditions surrounding hunger in Somalia is an essential first step in becoming a part of the solution.
– Alexi Worley