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Somali woman wearing a hijab holding her young son while he is treated for malnutrition.
9 November 2022

Somalia drought: It's time to sound the alarm

Extreme hunger has displaced more than 800,000 people in Somalia.

Somalia, like much of East Africa, is facing its worst drought in 40 years, causing desperate hunger and malnutrition among millions of people. Four failed rainy seasons have led to the loss of crops and livestock and has pushed many families to migrate. Most end up in settlements for internally displaced persons (IDP), in the hope of getting help to survive the drought in Somalia.  

A recent article explains why Somalia’s drought isn’t getting enough attention. But it’s time to sound the alarm about the children fighting to survive in Somalia. 

More than seven million people are hungry in Somalia

World Vision’s National Director for Somalia, Tobias Oloo, warns that children in Somalia are on the edge of starvation, and this situation will worsen before enough help arrives. He explains: 

"This is the reality facing millions of children in southern Somalia. More than seven million people are experiencing extreme hunger. Hunger has displaced more than 800,000 people who have no choice but to relocate. They’ve often walked for days or weeks to reach help."

"I’ve met several of these displaced families in Doolow district."

"Kin, a mother of six, travelled from northern Somalia to escape drought and hunger. She’s now staying in a tiny shelter made of old clothes, plastic bags, and dry sticks with her children. Three are living with different disabilities, two of them are unable to walk."

This support is a lifeline 

"Like most of the 18,000 others staying in this makeshift camp, she lost all of her livestock to the drought and came here with the hope of receiving assistance to survive. I cannot even begin to imagine how difficult her journey must have been. Kin also had to leave loved ones behind."

"Now, families like hers survive on humanitarian aid, skipping meals for days or begging neighbours for food." 

"Everyone in Kin’s camp relies on a single tank that is filled twice a day by a water truck thanks to World Vision. This support is a lifeline. In camps that don’t have access to safe water, our frontline staff are witnessing a surge in waterborne diseases."

"Amidst the despair I have not lost hope."
World Vision Director and a healthcare worker in Somalia attending to a malnourished 8-month old baby.
Jaafar, eight months old, is treated for malnutrition at a World Vision supported nutrition centre in Baidoa

Hunger forces parents to make difficult choices 

"Some children won’t live to see the assistance if it doesn't arrive soon. The United Nations reports about the catastrophic hunger levels in Somalia."

"The desperate situation forces parents to make difficult choices, such as forcing young girls into early marriages or taking their children out of education, just to survive the year. We also know of displaced girls who are forced to work to earn money to support their families. Even then, they can only afford one basic meal a day."

"The scale of need and suffering is beyond anything I have seen. A district commissioner told me this drought is far worse than the one Somalia experienced in 2011, when 250,000 people died of hunger. Half were children."

"I’ve met children in Somalia who are determined to build a better future for themselves and their country. They are the change we’ve been waiting for, but drought and hunger are threatening their dreams."

READ MORE: Prayers for the hunger crisis 

Hungry Somali children need critical support 

Conflict, Covid, climate change and the economic effects of the Ukraine crisis are interacting to create new – and worsen existing – hunger hotspots, trapping them in a cycle of poverty.  

Organisations like World Vision are doing everything possible to help vulnerable children and families.  

We urgently need funding to help even more hungry families in Somalia. 

50 million people around the world are facing hunger. 

The global hunger crisis threatens the lives of millions of children. 

Together, we are providing life-saving assistance, treating malnutrition, providing clean water, protecting children from harm and improving livelihoods. World Vision’s response hopes to help 22 million people who face life-threatening starvation.  

Your support makes this possible. 

The time to act is now.  

Learn more