USAID Calls for Increased Aid to Prevent Famine in Somalia

PHOTO CREDIT: USAID

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) calls for an increase in humanitarian assistance and response to avert famine in Somalia.

The US humanitarian agency says previous humanitarian actions prevented famine five years ago.

“Somalia’s famine projection does not have to come to pass. When another drought devastated Somalia in 2017, rapid international action helped avert a famine,” USAID Somalia said. “Today, a significant increase in humanitarian assistance can still help prevent mass starvation and deaths.” 

Due to persistent drought and four consecutive failed rainy seasons, at least seven million Somalis are food insecure and require immediate humanitarian assistance. More than one million people have been forced to live in displaced camps and 1.5 million children are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Aid organizations warn that the Horn of Africa nation is on the verge of another famine if victims of drought, conflict, and poverty do not receive critical food and medicine. According to the humanitarian organizations, the need will increase in 2023. 

The World Food Program said the drought makes it harder for Somali families to access nutritious food.

With the help of other organizations, the WFP said it is providing nutritional supplements to treat malnutrition in the country.

Ariane Luff, the head of strategy and response mobilization for the Food and Agriculture Organization in Somalia, while visiting drought victims, said the little assistance provided to families is changing their lives for the better.

“We’ve arrived in this village where we did six months cash for work with the USAID funding and the people have been telling us that the support was a lifeline for them and it got them through some of the hardest parts of the drought,” Luff said. “More support is needed because the drought is far from over.”

Last month 15 aid agencies called for urgent funding to speed up life-saving assistance and help communities adapt to climate change. 

“In Somalia, only 20% of funding was received by INGOs, and a mere 2% was directed to local NGOs. It is time for other donors to share responsibility, ensuring that funding is predictable, flexible and delivered directly to NGOs working in the region,” the agencies who provide assistance in Somalia said.

Last week ministers from the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which includes Somalia met in Nairobi to find ways to deal with the worsening humanitarian crisis in the region.    

“Coordination not only intra-agency coordination but also inter-agency coordination and inter-regional coordination is very important to ensure that our efforts, our strategies, our programs, if coordinated, the impact will be much bigger,” Somali agriculture and irrigation Ahmed Madobe Nunow said.

Nunow told the government representatives, donors and aid groups, his country needs funding to deal with food insecurity that has engulfed the country for decades. 

“Agriculture investment and financing are crucial because we are not going anywhere without resources. So, we need finance in agriculture because the only way we can address this problem is collective. So, once we understand the problem, we have the solutions. All we need is a very bold collective action.” 

In 2011, 250,000 people died in Somalia due to a famine caused by three consecutive seasons of insufficient rainfall.