Somalia: Famine looms in Somalia, but many ‘hunger hotspots’ are in deep trouble (21.09.2022)

The number of people facing life-threatening levels of hunger worldwide without immediate humanitarian aid, is expected to rise steeply in coming weeks, the UN said on Wednesday, in a new alert about looming famine in the Horn of Africa and beyond.

NEW YORK, United States of America, September 21, 2022 – In Somalia, “hundreds of thousands are already facing starvation today with staggering levels of malnutrition expected among children under five,” warned the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).“Large-scale deaths from hunger” are increasingly likely in the east African nation, the UN agencies continued, noting that unless “adequate” help arrives, analysts expect that by December, “as many as four children or two adults per 10,000 people, will die every day”.

Complex roots

In addition to the emergency already unfolding in Somalia, the UN agencies flagged 18 more deeply concerning “hunger hotspots”, whose problems have been created by conflict, drought, economic uncertainty, the COVID pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Humanitarians are particularly worried for Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, where a record 970,000 people “are expected to face catastrophic hunger and are starving or projected to starve or at risk of deterioration to catastrophic conditions, if no action is taken”, the UN agencies said.

This is 10 times more than six years ago, when only two countries had populations as badly food insecure, FAO and WFP noted, in a new report.

Urgent humanitarian action is needed and at scale in all of these at-risk countries “to save lives and livelihoods” and prevent famine, the UN agencies insisted.

Harsh winter harvest

According to FAO and WFP, acute food insecurity around the world will worsen from October to January.

In addition to Somalia, they highlighted that the problem was also dire in the wider Horn of Africa, where the longest drought in over 40 years is forecast to continue, pushing people “to the brink of starvation”.

Successive failed rains have destroyed people’s crops and killed their livestock “on which their survival depends”, said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, who warned that “people in the poorest countries” were most at risk from acute food security that was “rising fast and spreading across the world”.

FAO’s QU calls for massive aid scale-up

Vulnerable communities “have yet to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are suffering from the ripple effects of ongoing conflicts, in terms of prices, food and fertilizer supplies, as well as the climate emergency,” the FAO chief continued.

He insisted that “without a massively scaled-up humanitarian response” to sustain agriculture, “the situation will likely worsen in many countries in the coming months”.

Echoing that message, WFP Executive Director David Beasley appealed for immediate action to prevent people dying.

We urgently need to get help to those in grave danger of starvation in Somalia and the world’s other hunger hotspots,” he said.

Perfect storm of problems

This is the third time in 10 years that Somalia has been threatened with a devastating famine,” Mr. Beasley continued.

The famine in 2011 was caused by two consecutive failed rainy seasons as well as conflict. Today we’re staring at a perfect storm: a likely fifth consecutive failed rainy season that will see drought lasting well into 2023.”

In addition to soaring food prices, those most at risk from acute food insecurity also have “severely limited opportunities” to earn a living because of the pandemic, the WFP chief explained, as relief teams brace for famine in the Somali districts of Baidoa and Burhakaba in Bay region, come October.

Below the “highest alert” countries – identified as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen – the joint FAO-WFP report notes that the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Kenya, the Sahel, the Sudan and Syria are “of very high concern”, in addition to newcomers the Central African Republic and Pakistan.

Guatemala, Honduras and Malawi have also been added to the list of hunger hotspot countries, joining Madagascar, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe.

Barriers to aid

Humanitarian assistance is crucial to save lives and prevent starvation, death and the total collapse of livelihoods, FAO and WFP insist, while highlighting chronic access problems caused by “insecurity, administrative and bureaucratic impediments, movement restrictions and physical barriers” in 11 of the 19 hotspot countries.

This includes “all six of the countries where populations are facing or are projected to face starvation…or are at risk of deterioration towards catastrophic conditions”, they said.

Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF): UN to spend $100 million to fight hunger as Ukraine conflict disrupts food markets (14.04.2022)

Drought in the Horn of Africa: New Analyses Flag Mounting Risks, Need to Support Rural Families (11.02.2022)

A drought picture from a previous drought in Somalia (sometime in 2016)

FAO senior officials visit affected areas in the rush to save lives and livelihoods.

NAIROBI, Kenya, February 11, 2022 – An extended, multi-season drought is driving acute food insecurity in the Horn of Africa, with 12 to 14 million people now at risk as crops continue to wither and animals weaken, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and partners warned today.

Resource-based conflicts are escalating as competition for water and pasturelands increases, and malnutrition rates are rising in affected areas of Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, highlighting the need to sustain the rural livelihoods that underpin peace and food security across the Horn.

At a briefing to international donors in Nairobi, FAO and its partners reported that the food security outlook in the region will be highly dependent on the performance of the upcoming rainy season, with forecasts currently uncertain.

In a worst-case scenario in which the rains completely fail and agricultural-dependent communities do not receive adequate support, the number of highly food insecure people could climb to 15-20 million – with some worst-affected households facing “catastrophic” hunger conditions.

“Drought cycles are intensifying and occurring with greater frequency. Immediate humanitarian action to support farmers and herders is needed now,” said Bechdol, after visiting Kenyan communities where goats and cows are dying from lack of water and pasture. “The international community has a narrow window to prevent a major humanitarian catastrophe here,” she said.

“Alarm bells have already been rung – scaled-up action is needed now,” said Phiri. “FAO carried out anticipatory actions during the latter half of 2021 in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia to mitigate the impacts of drought on over one million rural people and so far a crisis has been mitigated. But much more is needed as the situation deteriorates and as crisis looms,” he said.

A plan to help rural families cope 

Under FAO’s new Horn of Africa Drought Response Plan, $130 million is urgently needed to provide time-critical assistance to highly vulnerable communities in drought-hit regions of the three countries. The plan supports the production of up to 90 million litres of milk and up to 40 000 tonnes of staple food crops in the first part of 2022, putting over one million highly-food insecure people on a safe footing.

For pastoralist families, FAO aims to deliver animal feed and nutritional supplements, provide mobile veterinary health clinics, transport 10 000 litre collapsible water reservoirs to remote areas, and upgrade existing wells to run on solar power.

For farming families, FAO aims to distribute drought-tolerant early-maturing varieties of sorghum, maize, cowpea and other beans and vegetables.

FAO is also carrying out cash transfers and cash-for-work programmes to ensure the most vulnerable can access food.

Additional new analysis published on Thursday from the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) for Somalia, hosted by FAO, shows that in Somalia alone, the number of acutely food insecure people (IPC Phase 3 and 4) is expected to increase from 3.5 to 4.1 million between January and March 2022, if humanitarian assistance is not received on time.

FAO’s Deputy Director-General, Beth Bechdol; Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, David Phiri; and Director of Emergencies and Resilience, Rein Paulsen have just completed a visit to Kenya to raise awareness on the drought and see FAO’s vital response in action, including in Isiolo and Marsabit counties in the north.

IGAD and FAO Call for Urgent Actions to Mitigate the Impacts of Drought Across the Horn of Africa (18.11.2021)

A joint statement by the IGAD Executive Secretary, Dr Workneh Gebeyehu and the FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, Dr Chimimba David Phiri.

NAIROBI, Kenya, November 18, 2021 – Vulnerable communities in the IGAD region continue to experience a complex mix of re-enforcing shocks and stresses that are eroding their resilience to food and nutrition insecurity. As of October 2021, 26 million people were already facing high levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3+), according to the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), which is co-chaired by the Inter-governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Due to the threat of worsening drought conditions, food insecurity will likely rise during the first half of 2022 across the Horn of Africa. Urgent action is therefore required now to safeguard livelihoods, save lives, and prevent possible starvation in some areas.

Drought conditions are already affecting the arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya, southern and central Somalia, and Belg-receiving areas of southern and south-eastern Ethiopia as consecutive poor rainfall seasons have driven below-average crop production, rising cereal prices, poor rangeland conditions, reduced livestock production, and drought-related  animal deaths in many areas.

Moreover, as forecast by the IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC), the start of the current October-December 2021 rainy season has been significantly delayed, with little to no rainfall observed to date in many areas, raising the probability of another poor season. Should this occur, agricultural and pastoral conditions will further deteriorate, causing households already struggling with the effects of multiple, concurrent hazards (climate variability, conflict, COVID-19, and desert locusts) to employ negative coping strategies and reduce their food consumption. This is a major source of concern as food insecurity in the region has historically increased sharply following consecutive poor rainfall seasons.

IGAD Member States continue to work in collaboration with development partners to anticipate and respond to various food security threats and build the resilience of vulnerable communities to recurrent threats and crises. During the desert locust upsurge, for example, the unparalleled support of resource partners and multi-agency coordination averted USD 1.3 billion worth of cereal losses, meeting the cereal requirements of 29.1 million people. Desert locust livelihood recovery support continues for more than 200 000 households.

IGAD and FAO share a long-standing history of successful partnership and collaboration in building the region’s resilience in several areas, including but not limited to: livelihood support to strengthen resilience against droughts; food security information and analysis; early warning and disaster risk management; implementation of cross border actions in close collaboration with the respective communities, local and national authorities; conflict prevention; natural resource management; market access and trade; and capacity building; institutional strengthening and coordination through the IGAD Drought Disaster Resilience and Sustainability Initiative (IDDRSI).

Such resilience-building efforts have significantly improved the ability of households to withstand the impacts of shocks. However, the increased frequency of climatic hazards, combined with the effects of other stressors, is threatening these hard-won gains. It is, therefore, crucial to act now to protect these resilience gains and prevent more people from sliding into food insecurity and malnutrition.

To this end, we must support farmers and herders who are experiencing the impacts of poor harvests, depleted food and animal feedstock, and rising food and water prices. More specifically, IGAD and FAO call for a scale-up of contributions to existing and future Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs) as the response remains grossly underfunded in the relevant countries. Through rapid, collaborative action by all actors, we can safeguard the lives and livelihoods of communities currently bearing the worsening effects of the drought, while at the same time, protecting households’ longer-term resilience.

Karamoja is running into a possible food crisis, but Mzee says its green!

Greetings. These pictures were taken at Kobebe dam, in Karamoja, as I waited for H.E Uhuru Kenyatta. I was at Latitude 2° North & 48 minutes (2°48 N). You can see how green it is!! The temperature, at that moment, was 22° celsius, very pleasant. The myth that Karamoja is dry is only perpetuated by those that do not know the opportunities available. Yes, Karamoja gets rain for fewer months than in the South of Uganda” (Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, 12.09.2019).

Well, its one of those days. The President shouldn’t demystify the area, but govern it properly. As there are already warning signs in concern of the food security in the region of Karamoja in August 2019. Therefore, the President should have warned about this and worked with the right authorities to secure the public. Instead, his busy with a photo-op and spreading his good news before yet another high ranking meeting with foreign dignitaries.

Let me show first, what IPC 3 means and also what the FAO warns about. Let’s take a look.

FEWS Net IPC 3 meaning:

PHASE 3 Crisis. Households either:

– Have food consumption gaps that are reflected by high or above-usual acute malnutrition;

OR

– Are marginally able to meet minimum food needs but only by depleting essential livelihood assets or through crisis-coping strategies” (FEWS NET – ‘Integrated Phase Classification’).

FAO Food Security Outlook:

In Karamoja, a typically high sorghum prices and below-average firewood-to sorghum terms of trade continue to significantly limit household food access and maintain above-average acute malnutrition prevalence. Due to a poor start of the rainfall season and reduced area planted, delayed harvests will gradually begin in September and sorghum production is expected to range from 20 to 40 percent below average on the district level. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are likely to persist through September and into October. As harvesting progresses, food security will gradually improve to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) through January” (FAO, 30.08.2019).

So, when the President speaks of the green land of Karamoja, his not concerned or thinking about the public. As they suffer malnutrition and lacking production of sorghum in the region. This should worry a President and he should think of the public there. Instead, his blowing praises on green fields and putting up tents to meet another head of state.

This shows that the President isn’t there to act upon the warned trouble ahead. The state should act upon the problematic food security. It should create and make arrangement to secure the public get enough food, the rising malnutrition shows signs of maladministration.

Certainly, the President doesn’t want to hear that, as his all about Steady Progress, but this problem in Karamoja is prevalent and repetitive. Its not like this haven’t happen in the region before, it has and is something the NRM and President could have acted upon. That is if he cares, alas, he don’t. His had 33 years to do something and ensure food security.

This is because of the reduced area planted with crops/cereals in the region and also the delayed harvest, also a poor rainfall in the season. All of these things should worry anyone, but the President is praising green grass. So we better let him be and praise his wisdom. Because, people is starving since they believe in myths. Peace.

IGAD, EU and Austrian Development Agency sign agreement on Peace and Security in Horn of Africa (23.03.2018)

South Sudan: The Political Opposition Forces – Communique (19.10.2017)

Position of South Sudan Council of Churches Regarding the Revitalisation of the Implementation of the Agreement for the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (ARCSS) – (13.10.2017)

CEPO of South Sudan: “Working Points for IGAD-LED Revitalization Porcess” (15.10.2017)

Opinion: Ambassador Mahboub Maalim in an interview states the IGAD failure in South Sudan and why!

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have been in-charge and had a pivotal role in the peacemaking in South Sudan. Not that it has stopped the civil-war that has escalated since June 2016. The Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army In-Opposition (SPLM/A-IO), also between more rebel fractions inside the Republic, as the Ugandans are trying to enforce unite inside the SPLM. This as there are different states that the rebels and opposition have been strong, while the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has not had the leadership to secure the Protection of Civilians sites in the Republic. Therefore, the interview of Mahboub Maalim of IGAD in New Vision was exposing something dire. Take a look!

Ambassador Mahboub Maalim on IGAD:

First of all, I am an employee of President Kiir, among other presidents. So, to ask me what I can tell him, is like asking your house helper to tell you to change something in your house. But this is on a light note. President Kiir has been told a lot by his compatriots, heads of state from the region and African Union (AU), and those in the international community circles. People know that the South Sudanese do not have to continue dying after having achieved what they fought for. The situation in South Sudan is very unfortunate, and like you have said, IGAD has done a lot to try to stay on top of it. Recently, the heads of state of IGAD appointed a special IGAD envoy for South Sudan. Hopefully, we will see a lot of changes in the run-up to the operationalisation of the peace agreement in South Sudan” (…) “If the people in South Sudan are saying that we have failed them, I would not get surprised. If I was in their shoes, I would say the same. If I was like them, sitting in a sewage-logged UN camp in my own country, I would feel the same. But just to encourage them, IGAD has tried very much to ameliorate the problems in South Sudan since the problems started in 2013. In 2014, IGAD heads of state had a special meeting to just discuss South Sudan. It has never happened in our history that over 14 heads of state convene to discuss one subject. South Sudan is at the heart of everybody. Of course, whether this will be solved today or tomorrow depends on the goodwill of the South Sudanese themselves” (Lumu, 2017).

That the Ambassador said one vital thing, that he could not push the member states around. Since he could not tell what was wrong in someones else house, like to President Salva Kiir Mayardiit and his South Sudan. The Ambassador also wasn’t shocked if the they felt the IGAD had failed. They have really failed since ARCISS (Agreement for a Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan, Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan, 2015). Doesn’t seem to be revived or anywhere near being fulfilled.

President Kiir and Dr. Riek Machar of SPLM/A-IO are really battling for supremacy. Together with all the deflectors and deserters from both major armies that are making the situation more problematic. Since the IGAD has not made the peace-agreement work, nor had the capacity to make a successful negotiations between all parties. The South Sudanese should feel betrayed, when the Ambassador Mahboub Maalim are saying: “I am an employee of President Kiir, among other presidents. So, to ask me what I can tell him, is like asking your house helper to tell you to change something in your house”.

So it is not like the IGAD wants to rock the boat, as it is an entity respecting its member states and their direct leadership. Peace.

Reference:

Lumu, David – ‘IGAD boss applauds Uganda on South Sudan’ (23.08.2017) – New Vision Article

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