GAROWE, PUNTLAND –Just one in four children in Puntland, Somalia, have access to sufficient food, a new assessment by Save the Children reveals today[i] – meaning three in four children are far more likely to succumb to the impact of yet another drought which is expected to devastate the region in the coming months.
According to a needs assessment conducted by Save the Children in March 2019, 73 percent of the children in the surveyed households in Puntland are consuming two or less meals a day, with families reporting increased food prices and drought-related livestock deaths which have reduced their access to food.
Nearly half of all respondents said the amount of food they eat has reduced over the past three months.
As a result, families are borrowing from family and friends and reducing the number of meals eaten in a day as a way to survive the acute food shortages they are experiencing.
Save the Children is warning that without an immediate scale-up of funding to enable life-saving services for drought-affected communities, the outcomes will be dire.
“The Somali population has yet to recover from the 2017 drought. Now they are facing yet another major humanitarian crisis which cannot be ignored. We have the figures, we have the rain charts, and we know that without immediate action, children will suffer in the coming weeks and months. It is imperative that the international community step up to this challenge, and work with the Government of Somalia to scale-up our humanitarian interventions to ensure children and families have enough access to food through this critical time,” said Timothy Bishop, Save the Children’s Country Director in Somalia.
Rainfall across Somalia’s two rainy seasons in late 2018 and early 2019 has been far below expected levels, lower than before the 2017 and 2011 droughts, which has led to a significant reduction in crop production and detrimental to livestock numbers[.
Food insecurity is currently worse than it was around the same time in 2017, when a famine was narrowly avoided. At least 2.2 million people in Somalia, including an estimated 930,000 children, are facing food shortages through the rest of the year due to the delayed and insufficient seasonal rainfall.
The number of malnourished children is rising rapidly. At least 1.2 million children under the age of five will be acutely malnourished throughout 2019, including 177,000 who are likely to be severely malnourished, according to the latest Food Security and Nutritional Analysis report issued on April 29tt.
On Monday May 20th, the UN launched a Drought Response Plan, seeking $ 710 million to provide critical life-saving assistance to 4.5 million drought-affected Somalis in the most severely affected areas.
“The world’s safety net is failing. We have to act now, or countless innocent lives will be lost,” added Bishop
Save the Children has worked in Somalia since 1951, investing in humanitarian and development programming, providing health, nutrition, education, child protection and child rights to the most vulnerable and deprived children.