‘Donor fatigue threatens’ Somalia’s drought response

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – Somalia is experiencing its worst drought in decades, and humanitarian aid workers have expressed concerns over a possible decrease in support due to donor fatigue. 

Compounded by multiple humanitarian crises worldwide, there is growing anxiety among aid workers that donor fatigue may reduce the funds received for Somalia’s appeal.

According to Mohamed Abdi, the Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council, who talked to VOA Somali, donor fatigue has been a persistent issue for Somalia. Somalia has received humanitarian assistance for over three decades with no substantial improvement, leading to donor fatigue.  

Many donors support other humanitarian causes in countries such as Yemen, Syria, Turkey, and Ukraine. Abdi adds that European donors would prefer to support the Ukrainians because of their proximity and the impact of the war. 

Somali government and humanitarian agencies appealed for $2.6 billion to assist 7.6 million people in 2023. However, famine is a strong possibility if rains in the spring are insufficient and humanitarian assistance is not sustained.  

A spokesperson for The U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has warned that while the needs in Somalia are increasing, donors are indicating that funding may be reduced this year. This development comes after OCHA’s appeals for donor support to Somalia in the past two years failed to reach its goals. 

According to the spokesperson, this funding shortfall has significantly impacted OCHA’s ability to provide vital assistance to the people of Somalia. The reduction in funding is especially concerning as the humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate. 

Reduced funding and its impact

According to a spokesperson, the funding for humanitarian assistance in crucial sectors is projected to decrease from April to June.  

This anticipated reduction of the financing is part of the calculus for the famine projection, despite last year’s efforts to meet the needs of 7.6 million people by increasing the initial appeal from $1.46 billion to $2.27 billion, of which only 67% was funded. As for 2021, the $1.09 billion request was only 78% received. 

As per Abdi’s confirmation, the Norwegian Refugee Council received only 40% of the $40 million they requested to support people affected by drought last year.

He emphasizes that with assistance from humanitarian donors, they will be able to reach the number of people they have planned to reach. 

The role of donors 

The United States remains Somalia’s largest single donor of humanitarian aid, contributing around $1.3 billion since October 2021. However, U.S. Embassy officials in Mogadishu stress that they cannot meet Somalia’s humanitarian needs alone.

In a call for action, humanitarian aid officials urge all donors to step up and contribute to sustaining and scaling up the humanitarian response to ensure that assistance continues to reach necessary levels. 

This plea comes as funding for critical sectors is anticipated to decrease in the coming months, adding to the already challenging circumstances faced by millions of people in need.

Somali and U.N. officials hope that European and Arab countries will step up to provide support. They emphasize that the sooner the funding is received, the better they will be able to respond to the crisis. 

The U.N. Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator, Reena Ghelani, urges donors to react before the crisis.  

Following a visit to Mogadishu last month, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield stated that swift action with humanitarian assistance is needed in Somalia to save lives and prevent the onset of famine.