The gap to a calamity is closing fast, as hundreds of thousands desperate Somalis in food crisis and pastoralist families continue to be robbed of their only source of income while fleeing an imminent famine with their dying herds to areas that promise food for their vulnerable children and flocks, warns World Vision International Somalia.
The looming famine that is ravaging Somalia is causing family livelihoods to crumble, threatening lives of hundreds of thousands of children and their families who cannot access food, thus worsening malnutrition rates in the country.
“We have a very short time left to prevent children from starving to death and concerns are growing. If we are going to wait for the rains it will be too late. With 71,000 children already severely malnourished, they are likely to die if they don’t get urgent help. We will not want to stand on graves of children that could have been saved,” Simon Nyabwengi, National Director, World Vision International –Somalia Programme says.
“These children and their families need immediate life-saving assistance and access to food, water, medicine and other basic services essential for their survival as time is running out fast. A window of early action has been missed, for history not to repeat action cannot be delayed any longer,” Mr Nyabwengi stresses.
Successive failed rains across Somalia, together with falling incomes, rising food prices and continuing problems with access as a result of conflict and insecurity, have exhausted the coping strategies of vulnerable families. The number of people facing food insecurity has risen dramatically, and is projected to reach nearly 3 million between now and June.
Somalia is severely affected given the limited recovery from the 2011 famine, a situation that is exacerbated by protracted conflict, widespread poverty and inadequate access to basic services. Most pastoralists who have lost their livestock have extremely low capacity to cope, and so do millions of Internally Displaced People (IDPs). This is partly why IDPs continue to move into Baidoa, Burco and other towns or centres hoping to have access to a few opportunities to earn an income or have access to aid. Towns such as Baidoa, Mogadishu, Garowe and even Hargeisa are beginning to see an increase in destitute people in search of food and employment.
Ali Mohamed Said, 50 years old, moved with his wife and six children from Jariban in the north-central Mudug region of Somalia, over 300 kilometers from his rural home to Jilaab village in Garowe town, with hope to get help since he lost all his livestock to severe drought that has forced many other pastoralist to flee to urban areas.
“I lost all my animals (70 goats and 2cows). We moved here for several reasons. Many people here are extended families and they also can help us. It’s a city so we think we can get water easily for my children. Those who remained in my village don’t have water, food of even proper shelter. I fear they might die. I believe here we can live longer with the little help we get,” Ali says.
“When I remember 2011 drought there is a big difference. That time I still had some livestock, but this year they have all died. I cannot go back because there is nothing to do there. But I hope that someday it will be better,” Ali adds.
World Vision is currently providing assistance to children who are malnourished by providing supplements and treatment in Usgure Village. In addition, World Vision is carrying out water trucking in Jariban in Puntland enabling access to safe and clean water for drinking, household use and for livestock consumption. The charity also has a resilience programme to help women start up village savings and loans associations to build savings and provide alternative livelihoods by teaching them how to save small money on a regular basis for future use.
“We have been able to keep 73,000 children alive by providing them with nutritional supplements, we have trucked water to 10000 people. We have provided food to 24,000 people. But more needs to be done given the scale of the number of people in immediate need of assistance” says Mr. Nyabwengi. However, the resources available for this intervention are inadequate to meet the needs of increasing movement of people into these areas in search of pasture and water.
World Vision is seeking US$18.5 million to provide life-saving assistance to 530,000 drought-affected people in Puntland, Somaliland, South West State and Jubaland between January and December 2017