Poor rains, high food prices and ongoing conflict have intersected to push Somalia once gain to the brink of crisis, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in the country said today, warning that without immediate action, the fragile food security situation could worsen in the coming months, especially if funding shortages force essential projects to shut down.
“This is not your usual appeal for funds. Some of NGOs [non-governmental organizations] and agencies have so few resources that essential life-saving projects are facing closure,” warned Philippe Lazzarini, at a briefing in Geneva.
“If funding is not received in a matter of weeks, primary health care services for 3 million people, many of them women and children, may have to be shut down.”
He said that due to a combination of delayed rains, rising food prices and continued conflict, Somalia is at risk of sliding back into crisis. Despite the serious situation, resources for the country are “critically low”. So far in 2014, the Strategic Response Plan for Somalia has received only 15 per cent of the $933 million requested – a shortfall of $790 million.
“This time last year, nearly twice this amount of funding had been received,” said Mr. Lazzarini, explaining that as a result, aid agencies are already struggling to meet the needs of affected people they have access to. Moreover, covering the anticipated needs of those in areas that may become in accessible due to the ongoing military campaign against Al Shabaab will be extremely difficult if more funding is not mobilized.
According to Mr. Lazzarini’s office, Somalia experienced a devastating famine in 2011 in which 250,000 people died. While there have been some incremental improvements, the country still has not fully recovered. Today, 857,000 Somalis are considered to be in ‘crisis and emergency’ conditions and 2 million Somalis are under food security ‘stress.’
“The parallels to the pre-famine period in 2010, when the combination of shrinking access, declining funds and a few failed rainy seasons led to a devastating crisis, are very worrying,” he said. “Early warnings must trigger early action at a speed and a scale that saves lives. This requires both immediate access and urgent resources.”