Mogadishu, 14 September 2022 – More than half of children aged under five in Somalia are facing acute malnutrition with one in six suffering from the most deadly form as time to fend off famine starts to run out, Save the Children said following the release of new hunger figures.
The analysis said the number of children estimated to be suffering acute malnutrition had risen to 1.8 million, more than half of under-fives in the country. That’s an increase of 20% from previous forecasts as Somalia is crippled by its worst drought in 40 years as well as rising food prices and conflict.
This includes 513,500 young children – or almost one in six – suffering from severe acute malnutrition, which is 25% higher than previous forecasts.
With the UN warning of famine in parts of the country within months, Save the Children said the data highlighted that widespread suffering and devastation is happening now among children and families in Somalia where famine in 2011 killed 260,000 people, half of whom were children.
Four consecutive poor or failed harvests since 2020, escalating local and imported food prices, the deaths of more than three million livestock, drought and conflict-induced population displacement have combined to create a life-threatening emergency.
Nearly 6.7 million people in Somalia - 41% of the population – are expected to be battling widespread food shortages between October and December this year, which is an increase of nearly 2.4 million people from previous figures.
Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia, Mohamud Mohamed Hassan, said:
“Never has the severity of this hunger crisis in Somalia, which is extending across the Horn of Africa, been so dire. The window of opportunity to act and stop this suffering is continuing to shrink rapidly. Children are already dying. The services set up to combat malnutrition and hunger in Somalia are simply not enough to meet the huge and increasing levels of need.
“With the number of climate-related disasters tripling in the past 30 years, frequent and recurring climate shocks – such as drought, flooding, and cyclones – are repeatedly decimating farming and livestock, driving population displacement, and pushing millions into acute hunger.
“The great tragedy of hunger in Somalia is that the country has been one of the lowest contributors to the climate crisis, and yet is feeling the impact most severely. Right now, the Horn of Africa is experiencing an extreme, persistent drought after four consecutive failed rainy seasons – a climatic event not seen in at least 40 years – and it’s set to get worse.”
Save the Children is calling on the UK Government to invest an additional £70 million to help treat one million severely malnourished children across the region, as well as taking the lead and working with world leaders to tackle the root causes of this crisis.
The child rights organisation is also calling for action from the international community to put an end to hunger across Somalia and the Horn of Africa for good by addressing the root causes, including finding a sustainable solution to the global climate crisis and supporting the communities most affected to adapt and prepare for climate shocks.
Save the Children has worked in Somalia since 1951 and is a national and international leader in humanitarian and development programming in health, nutrition, education, child protection and child rights governance.
This year, Save the Children has reached more than 24,000 people through cash programming and treated more than 50,000 children for malnutrition. We are currently providing water trucking to more than 25,000 households and unconditional cash provisions to nearly 11,000 households in the worst-affected areas.
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