A mixed picture has emerged in the north African country of Somalia. While the humanitarian situation has continued to improve due to good Gu rains (April – July) and sustained humanitarian response, the 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) released by the Somalia Humanitarian Country Team on Thursday cautioned that these gains were fragile and threatened by the poor performance of the current Deyr rainy season (Oct-Dec).
In the past, the crisis in Somalia was caused by prolonged drought, violence and insecurity. Consecutive years of poor rains and harvests decimated crops across Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya, and families were dying not only from starvation, but also from diseases such as cholera and measles because they lack clean water and sanitation.
However, the end of four consecutive seasons of drought in many parts of the country has resulted in the best harvests in nearly a decade, positively affecting the food security.
But early funding and support would be required to sustain the aid operation in 2019, the latest assessment cautioned.
HNO said more than 4.2 million people – one third of the population – will require humanitarian assistance and protection in 2019.
This, it added, is a reduction in the number of people in need by 34 per cent, from 6.2 million people in 2018 due to an improved humanitarian context and a more focused definition of humanitarian needs.
Of the people in need of assistance, almost two thirds are children and over 2.6 million people are internally displaced persons (IDPs), who live in difficult circumstances, and remain highly vulnerable and in need of multiple basic services.
The most vulnerable groups, including female-headed households, children, the elderly, people with disabilities and marginalized communities, are particularly at risk and face specific protection concerns.
“Even with the improvements in food security, we cannot afford to be complacent. Humanitarian needs remain above the pre-crisis level from two years ago. Over 1.5 million people, mainly IDPs and rural populations, face acute levels of food insecurity (IPC 3 and above) and require immediate assistance for their survival. Malnutrition rates across the country have remained persistently high with nearly one million children expected to be acutely malnourished, including 173,600 expected to be severely malnourished,” said Peter de Clercq, the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
“Continued conflict and climatic shocks such as this year’s underperforming Deyr season threaten to reverse the gains made thus far. Collective international support will be required to sustain aid operations in 2019.”
The Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management called on aid agencies to continue to prioritize life-saving assistance, in complementarity with development, recovery and resilience initiatives such as the Recovery and Resilience Framework (RRF) and the National Development Plan (NDP), to address the underlying causes of recurring crises.
“The improvement in the humanitarian situation presents humanitarian and development partners, and the Federal Government of Somalia, with an opportunity to invest more in resilience-building to end the cyclical nature of needs. The government is committed to continue working with all partners to strengthen its capacity and to gradually take over full responsibility for the delivery of basic social services and to better address the underlying causes of humanitarian needs,” said the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, Hamza Said Hamza.
Simon is a renowned international journalist, founder and publisher of TODAY NEWS AFRICA in Washington D.C.