Famine in Somalia may be over, but 2.3 million people still in crisis

03 Feb 2012

Nairobi, Kenya  – The combination of a  massive scale-up in humanitarian assistance and an exceptional harvest have helped relieve famine conditions in Somalia, but interrupting assistance risks these gains, according to analysis released today by the Food and Agricultural Organisation’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning System (FEWS NET).

“The gains are fragile and will be reversed without continued support,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, who also serves as the Resident Representative for the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The latest data shows that 2.34 million Somalis still need life-saving assistance. In southern parts of the country, 1.7 million people need food, clean water, shelter and other assistance just to survive. Mortality rates remain among the highest in the world.

“We need to use this temporary relief from the worst of the crisis to focus our efforts on life-saving assistance, while building up people’s ability to cope with future drought – and thereby reduce their dependence on aid,” said Bowden. “Recovery is only possible after August if the rains are good and other external factors, such as conflict, do not hamper the progress made so far.”

Last December, the UN appealed for USD 1.5 billion to provide life-saving assistance to millions of people in Somalia during 2012, with early recovery principles in-built into the programme to shorten the period of emergency, and build resilience.

UNDP is continuing its work on emergency income generation activities and infrastructure rebuilding through cash-for-work initiatives. We will also focus on the protection of vulnerable groups, including women, particularly in the capital, Mogadishu.