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Famine in Somalia


This is a children’s famine

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• Famine has been declared in Lower Shabelle and parts of Bakool in southern Somalia. Other southern regions, currently in very critical conditions may also reach famine levels in the coming two months.

• 1.85 million children are in need of humanitarian assistance, out of a total 3.7 million people (almost half of the population) in need across the country - a 35% increase since January.

• The number of acutely malnourished children under 5 years of age has increased from 476,000 in January (103,000 severely malnourished and 373,000 moderately malnourished) to 780,000 (340,000 severely malnourished and 440,000 moderately malnourished) with 82% of all acutely malnourished in the south – representing 640,000 (310,000 SAM and 330,000 MAM)

• 855,723 (58%) of the total 1.46 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) are children under 18, mainly displaced by drought and conflict. An average of 1,105 and 845 Somali children are arriving in Ethiopia and Kenya respectively on a daily basis.

• In most regions of the south, 1 in 5 children is severely malnourished and in some regions (Bay) 1 in 3 children are severely malnourished at exceptionally high risk of death.

• Routine immunization coverage is among the lowest in the world (measles coverage in the central and Southern parts of the country in 2008 was 26%). Some areas of the south (Lower Shabelleand Jubas) have been denied access for immunization since 2009.

• Population-wide death rates are above the famine threshold (2 deaths per 10,000 per day) in Bakool agropastoral, and Lower Shabelle, and are elevated across the south. Under 5 death rates are higher than 4/10,000/day in all areas of the south, peaking at 13-20/10,000/day in riverine and agropastoral areas of Lower Shabelle.

• Only 30% of the overall population has access to safe water and only 20% of those in the worst affected areas of the south.

• Conflict continues to maim and kill children and women.  Campaigns to recruit thousands of children including girls – especially from schools - into armed forces/groups are intensifying.

• It is the worst food security crisis the world today. Malaria and measles epidemics are also expected to be a factor when the rains come in October.

• The situation is grim and many children are in desperate condition. Many families have been tipped over the edge, their animals are dead, and they have nothing left to live on. After years of drought and conflict their coping strategies are gone. If they are strong enough many are now moving in search of assistance.   Massive numbers of children are desperately heading to urban centers within the country and across the border in order to get help.

• It is the worst food security crisis the world today. Malaria and measles epidemics are also expected to be a factor when the rains come in October

We can save more lives if we act now:

 We can prevent more children dying by urgently scaling up our efforts in nutrition, access to safe water and health and bringing these services to the most desperate populations within Somalia.
We need to bring the services to them in their communities and try to stop being having to move in the first place. This means getting them water, nutrition and health services to their communities before they starve or move.

For those that have already moved, we also need to make sure that we provide key life-saving interventions available at the transit centers and within the IDP camps in the country so to keep children alive and prevent the outbreak of disease in these often crowded and unsanitary conditions.This is more than just a food crisis this is a crisis for child survival.  We need to make sure we get a critical package of health, water and sanitation to children otherwise they can die from a combination of diseases and malnutrition.

Children don’t die just because they don’t have enough food. They are dying or are affected for the rest of their lives because they are more prone to sickness and disease, drinking contaminated water, not being vaccinated and with poor diets. All of these conditions are worsening now and are aggravated when families are forced to move.


• UNICEF has 800 feeding centers across Somalia, about 500 are in the south, where we plan to more than double the number of severely malnourished children we reach from 35,000 to 100,000.

• UNICEF’s main area for scale up is the blanket supplementary feeding- which means that we will reach every child, and its family in target area, to cover the gap of lack of food aid. The aim is to do blanket feeding will reach 510,000 families or more than 3 million people over the next 6 months.

• Conduct immunization services to protect against outbreak of diseases and get access to safe water to people most in need. In April and June, over 320,000 children 0-5 years were reached with two doses of polio in Benadir and Galgadud. In Central South Zone, over 300 MCH and HPs provided basic primary health care services to 883,700 people,.UNICEF is planning to scale up to target 2.5 million children up to 15 years of age with measles vaccination (including 1 million children aged 6-59 months for VitA supplementation, and 900,000 aged 12-59 months for deworming). UNICEF will also be providing Health Kits to support the work of mobile health teams.

• Expand provision of safe water and access to sanitation by drilling boreholes, water trucking and providing vouchers to reach 300,000 children and their families through OTPs (over 1.8 million people), 50,000 IDPs at camps/transit points and 60,000 people with water vouchers.

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