A deadly combination of conflict, poor rainfall and a predicted late harvest threatens to push hundreds of thousands of Somalis back into hunger, undermining aid efforts put in place during last year’s drought, UK Aid Agency Save the Children has warned.
The humanitarian agency said on Thursday that many of the 1.4 million Somalis displaced by conflict and drought will bear the brunt of the new crisis since they rely on good harvests to keep food prices low.
Andrew Wander, Save the Children’s emergency media manager, told Al Jazeera that there was a misconception that the food crisis in Somalia had been resolved.
“There is this perception that the crisis ended but Somalia has been in a protracted hunger crisis for the past year.
“The worst of the crisis might have ended but the region is still marked as an emergency-level four on the IPC scale [Integrated Food Security Phase Classification] which means that we anticipating that people affected previously will be impacted again,” he said.
“What we have marked (today) is that the situation is moving to one of deterioration … continued displacement in the region has made people even more vulnerable,” Wander said.
“(Last year’s) crisis has left a huge amount of Somali families unable to cope with the effects of drought one year on “
-Sonia Zambakides, Save the Children
The UNHCR says that while conflict induced displacement has continued in Somalia, there has been an increase in IDPs and refugees citing difficulty in providing for themselves.
In 2012 alone, an estimated 13,000 people left their homes because of food insecurity.
In its latest report, The Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) warned that the food situation across Somalia “is likely to remain unchanged since January 2012” – a period when three areas remained in famine conditions.
The FSNAU said considering the forecast, “continued humanitarian support is of utmost importance, particularly in the context of prevailing ‘very critical’ nutrition situation in southern Somalia”.
The UK based Saved the Children said that while they were not anticipating a return to famine, ordinary Somalis were still battling to deal with the aftermath of last year’s crisis.
“(Last year’s) crisis has left a huge amount of Somali families unable to cope with the effects of drought one year on,” Sonia Zambakides, humanitarian director for Save the Children’s Somalia programme, said in a statement.
The charity asked for more funding and fresh efforts by the international community to tackle the underlying causes of
Somalia’s regular food crises.
“We need a step-change in approach towards Somalia: a shift away from simply responding to hunger emergencies towards a long-term commitment to tackle the issues that give rise to them,” Zambakides said.
The US-backed Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has warned that rains critical to the harvest “started late and were poorly distributed,” although a return to famine is “not expected” according to current data.
Its latest report notes that several southern Somali areas face “increasing food deficits” that will “occur in the context of already high levels of acute malnutrition.”
In 2011, an estimated 13 million people in the Horn of Africa, including parts of Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, were affected by a drought considered to be the worst to hit the region in decades.