More than 20,000 children across nine districts in Somalia risk starving to death in a few months unless the international community continues to provide life-saving aid to the drought-stricken country, Save the Children is warning.
New survey results released by the humanitarian organization and conducted in partnership with Concern Worldwide and Action Against Hunger, show the number of severe acute malnutrition cases—the most dangerous form of hunger—have skyrocketed in nearly half of the nine districts assessed. In the district of Mataban alone, 9.5 percent of children under five are now severely malnourished.
A series of indicators tied to malnutrition, food supplies and mortality rates must be met for a famine to be declared. The survey results show the nutrition indicator is pointing to famine-like conditions in some areas of the country.
“The lack of food and rising numbers of severely malnourished children are distressing, to say the least,” said Hassan Noor Saadi, Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia.
“The most recent rains have been erratic and have not performed well enough to guarantee crop growth, and families continue to lose what little remains of their livelihoods and livestock, leaving them with few options to provide for their children, indicating a clear risk of famine.”
An estimated $1.5 billion is needed to help humanitarian organizations working on the ground save lives, of which only $550 million has been funded to date. Save the Children is urgently calling on the international community to continue funding the drought response in Somalia.
“The first half of the year saw significant levels of support from donors, which allowed us to help nearly one million vulnerable children. But these funds will soon run out, leaving millions at risk unless additional funding is made available,” Saadi added.
“We welcome the UK government’s recent announcement to provide an additional $75 million to the response, and the US government’s ongoing commitment. We urge other donors to follow suit and make more funds available. Otherwise, we risk repeating the horrors of 2011, when a famine caused over 250,000 people – half of them children – to needlessly lose their lives.”
Drought-related diseases like cholera have also been persistently high across the country, causing thousands of deaths and leaving already weakened children even more vulnerable.
Press Release from Save the Children.