DOLOW, Somalia, October 16, 2014 — As World Food Day is marked Thursday (October 16) around the world, Somalia is once again on the brink of another humanitarian catastrophe, says aid agency World Vision. The humanitarian organization raised the red flag today over a severe drought and serious food and water shortages that are having life-threatening consequences for over 3.2 million people in the country.
“We are extremely concerned that the malnutrition rates have increased by 20 percent over the last 6 months. Sadly 218,000 children are now severely malnourished,” said Francois Batalingaya, World Vision’s Country Director in Somalia. “The world must act now and let it not forget that it waited too long for the famine that killed thousands in 2011.”
Humanitarian agencies have for the last 10 months been calling for action in response to the drought situation. The United Nations recently estimated that 3.2 million are now affected by the drought, including 1.1 million people that have been displaced by conflict.
World Vision says that the majority of farmers were not able to harvest any grain due to the failure of the rainy season. Water sources and pasture have also dried up, causing thousands of animals to die. In addition, the ongoing conflict has caused market disruptions and reduced access to seasonal agricultural employment.
World Vision’s response
Somalia is one of the poorest countries in the world, where survival is a struggle even during the best of times: 1 in 10 children die before their 1st birthday and 2 in 10 die before their 5th birthday. Fewer than 1 in 3 people in Somalia have access to safe drinking water, and maternal mortality is among the very worst in the world.
To avoid a repeat of the 2011 famine, World Vision has been taking targeted early actions and working to scale up its emergency programming in the past few months.
The organization has enrolled 55,000 malnourished children in an emergency feeding program and has supported another 132,000 people in South and Central regions through other urgent, life-saving programs.
However, Batalingaya added that the urgent scale-up of the life-saving and early recovery response is needed to avoid another famine:
“We will not wait to respond until thousands of children and mothers are dying and the world finally takes notice. We must act now to ensure the horrific famine of 2011 in Somalia is not repeated,” he said.
In the 2011-2012 crisis in the Horn of Africa, nearly 260,000 Somalis lost their lives.
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About World Vision:
World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization conducting relief, development, and advocacy activities in its work with children, families, and their communities in nearly 100 countries to help them reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. For more information, please visit www.WorldVision.org/media-center/ or on Twitter @WorldVisionUSA.
- Somalia is on the brink of another humanitarian catastrophe.
- Severe drought, food and water shortages are threatening the lives of over 3.2 million people.
- World Vision is responding with emergency feeding programs.