Somalia: FAO urges action to prevent catastrophic famine

Mogadishu (Caasimada Online) – Somalia is facing a potentially catastrophic food crisis due to a prolonged drought, increased conflict, and rising food prices, according to The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The Integrated Food Security Phase (IPC) Acute Food Insecurity analysis warns that the situation is dire, and the most vulnerable areas in the country are experiencing elevated mortality levels.  

Up to 727,000 people are expected to face catastrophic food insecurity by June 2023, leading to starvation and death.

Rural farming, pastoralist, and displaced communities, predominantly from rural areas, are at the greatest risk of famine.  

Their survival depends on the health and productivity of their animals, which have been severely affected by the drought.  

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) urges the international community to take swift action to address the immediate needs of rural communities to prevent famine. 

Addressing immediate needs in Somalia

The FAO emphasizes that immediate action is necessary to avert famine. However, it warns that this is insufficient, and increased investment in resilience and livelihood support is crucial. 

FAO Representative in Somalia, Etienne Peterschmitt, notes that “real action needs to be taken not only to help communities meet their immediate needs but also so they can adapt their livelihoods and build resilience in the face of climate crises and economic shocks, preparing them for whatever the future may bring.” 

To prevent famine, sustained levels of at-scale support will be required well into mid- to late-2023.

Somalia rural communities most affected 

The prolonged drought conditions have left pastoral, agro-pastoral, and farming communities unable to cope.  

Rural agriculture, pastoralist communities, and displaced communities, overwhelmingly from rural areas, are among those most at risk of famine.  

The FAO emphasizes that saving livestock is crucial since they are the only source of food and income for many rural communities.  

The FAO will continue providing range cubes and animal vaccines, restoring water holes, and cash assistance to help people meet their basic needs. 

Underfunded livelihoods support

Rural livelihoods assistance saves lives, helping people remain in their homes when it is safe for them to do so and paving the way for future recovery.  

However, a lack of large-scale funding for livelihood support, climate‑resilient food production, and development priorities pose significant challenges. 

This leaves livelihoods and the productive sectors they depend on weak and vulnerable to climate and economic shocks. 

The FAO has been assisting rural communities through cash and agricultural inputs, such as seeds, animal feed, and fertilizers.  

From May to December 2022, the FAO reached over 700,000 individuals across 35 districts, treated 11 million animals to support their survival, and trucked 27 million liters of water to remote areas.  

Over $24 million in cash and livelihood assistance has been provided to rural communities most exposed to famine. The FAO plans to reach over a million more people in the coming months. 

Additional funding is urgently needed 

Although FAO’s appeal is expected to be 70% funded within the year, additional funds are needed to provide life-saving support through cash transfers in hard-to-reach and inaccessible rural areas. 

The FAO emphasizes that sustained funding is necessary to support livelihoods, including agricultural inputs, cash transfers, and access to water and veterinary care, to help communities withstand the effects of future shocks.

The situation in Somalia is dire, and the international community must act swiftly to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.  

The FAO has called on donors to provide urgent and sustained funding to support Somalia’s most vulnerable populations. Peterschmitt notes, “if we want to make a lasting difference, we need to help build resilience among rural communities in Somalia.”  

Without timely and sustained action, the risk of famine and acute malnutrition will continue to threaten the lives of millions of people.