UNICEF Geneva Palais briefing note on rising severe acute malnutrition for children in Somalia

This is a summary of what was said by UNICEF Spokesperson, James Elder, to whom quoted text may be attributed - at today's press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

13 September 2022
Seven month old Fardowsa is being examined for malnutrition.
UNICEF Somalia/Rich
Seven month old Fardowsa is being examined for malnutrition.

The number of Somalia’s youngest children (those aged 6-59 months) who are expected to suffer severe acute malnutrition (SAM) has now increased from 386,000 to 513,550.

This is a staggering increase of 33percent. It means 127,000 more children are at risk of death.

As we heard last week, children are already dying. Our partners report that some stabilization centres are full, and thus critically ill children are having to receive treatment on the floor.

Severely malnourished children are up to 11 times more likely to die of diarrhoea and measles than well-nourished children, both of which are spiking across the region that is predicted to head into famine.

Disease outbreaks have spiked between Jan-July, with at least 8,400 suspected acute watery diarrhoea (AWD)/cholera cases and around 13,000 suspected measles cases (78 per cent children under 5).  

To give some terrifying context to this latest number: 340,000 children required treatment for severe acute malnutrition at the time of the 2011 famine. Today we are faced with 513,000 children at risk of death.

That is, more than half a million children facing preventable death – it’s a number, a pending nightmare, we have not seen this century.

We need radical change to stop famine happening again – ensuring donors commit long term funding to help families build resilience to the effects of this climate crisis. For example, UNICEF’s three-year appeal to help families and their communities build resilience in the Horn of Africa region is currently just 3 per cent funded.

Media contacts

James Elder
Senior Adviser Communication
Tel: +41 799415298
Matias Lindemann
Communication Officer
Tel: +1 917 547 2846


UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

UNICEF has been working in Somalia since 1972 when its first office opened in Mogadishu. Today UNICEF has over 300 staff working in Mogadishu, Baidoa, Dollow, Garowe, Hargeisa and also Nairobi, Kenya. Together with 200 international and national NGOs and community-based organizations, UNICEF delivers services in Health, Nutrition, WASH, Education and Child Protection, and responds to emergencies and supports peace-building and development.

Follow UNICEF Somalia on TwitterFacebook and Instagram