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Drought Threatens Millions in Somalia as Government Declares State of Emergency

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (Nov. 24, 2021)—Nearly a quarter of Somalia’s population is struggling to feed itself due to an ongoing drought with the country declaring a state of emergency and Save the Children calling on donors to urgently respond to the needs of children and their families.

The “Deyr” seasonal rains, which normally start in late September and end early December, have failed to bring substantial water this year. This coupled with below-average or failed previous rainy seasons has left millions of children hungry, malnourished, and in urgent need of assistance, with  reports of children and their parents dying due to hunger and lack of water.

Save the Children staff are reporting that hundreds of water sources have dried up, and countless animals and crops have died as the result of the intensifying drought. Many families no longer have access to food and safe drinking water, and have lost their life savings in the deaths of their livestock.  In some areas, water prices have skyrocketed.

About 2.6 million people in Somalia—close to 22 percent of the population in 66 out of 74 districts across the country—are affected by the drought, and nearly 113,000 people are displaced by drought across the country. In addition, 1.2 million children under the age of five are projected to be acutely malnourished by the end of the year, with nearly 213,400 of them severely malnourished.

The deteriorating drought situation has compounded an already protracted crisis in Somalia, where the number of people who need humanitarian assistance is forecast to rise by 30 percent from 5.9 million to 7.7 million in 2022.

Mohamud Mohamed Hassan, Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia, said:

“Our staff in the field are witnessing dried up water sources, no crops and no pastures, animals dying, and people moving away from their communities after losing their livestock. Those who cannot afford to pay for water and food face the prospect of dying of hunger and lack of water. This is an unsustainable situation for the people of Somalia. Somalis are resilient, they are adaptive, but no one can adapt quickly to such dramatic changes in the climate.

“The global community needs to take responsibility for this crisis. It isn’t the fault of Somali children, who have some of the lowest carbon footprints on earth, that their world is heating and their animals are dying.

“Children are bearing the brunt of the climate crisis in Somalia. Resources need to come, now, to this country so that humanitarian actors can respond to the worsening situation quickly and save lives. The time to act is now, not tomorrow, not next week, not next year."

Save the Children is providing water for drought-stricken communities, screening children for malnutrition and providing those at risk with therapeutic food, and providing emergency health care for pastoralist and hard-to-reach communities. We are also delivering cash and voucher assistance to some of the families facing economic and food stress to reduce their need to leave their homes and setting up water trucking and feeding programs at schools to encourage children to stay in school.

Save the Children believes every child deserves a future. Since our founding more than 100 years ago, we've been advocating for the rights of children worldwide. In the United States and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm. We do whatever it takes for children – every day and in times of crisis – transforming the future we share. Our results, financial statements and charity ratings reaffirm that Save the Children is a charity you can trust. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.