June 15, 2024

United States provides $476 million to Somalia amid worst drought on record and looming famine

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power's visit to Israel. 15 February 2016. Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv,
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power's visit to Israel. 15 February 2016. Matty Stern / U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv,

The United States, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is providing an additional $476 million in critical humanitarian and development assistance to the people of Somalia as a historically unprecedented drought pushes more than 7 million people to the edge of starvation. 

With this announcement, the United States has provided nearly $707 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Somalia in FY 2022. It is imperative that Somalia’s partners in the international community join the United States in increasing their contributions to the Somali people to avert significant loss of life in the midst of multiple consecutive failed rainy seasons and skyrocketing food and fuel prices due to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

USAID’s critical assistance comes as Somalia is experiencing four back-to-back drought seasons, and more than 200,000 people currently face an imminent risk of famine. A confluence of crises, including COVID-19, desert locust infestations, and continued recovery from previous droughts have grinded away at people’s livelihoods across the country. Meanwhile, climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of droughts globally. 

Today’s announcement includes $461 million in humanitarian assistance that will allow USAID partners to urgently scale-up assistance to millions of people across Somalia. This includes:

  • Urgent supplies of food for millions of people, staving off starvation – USAID will provide cash for Somalis to purchase food staples from local markets, supporting the local economy and ensuring families facing starvation get what they need. As Russia’s war on Ukraine has driven up wheat and vegetable oil prices by 300 percent in some areas, new funding will also provide sorghum – a more readily available grain than hard-to-import wheat – yellow split peas, and vegetable oil for families living in areas where local markets are not open. 
  • Life-saving nutrition to treat malnourished children – Somali children are among the most vulnerable and most likely to bear the brunt of this dire crisis. Nearly half of all children in Somalia currently need critical nutrition support to survive, and hundreds of tragic deaths have already been reported. To prevent further loss of life, USAID will provide community-level screening to support early detection of severe acute malnutrition in children. In detected cases, USAID funds will supply specialized peanut-based, and corn-soya blend nutritional supplements to treat malnourished children at hospitals and clinics. 
  • Safe drinking water and emergency health care to prevent disease exacerbated by hunger – This funding will also provide urgent health support and safe drinking water to prevent disease exacerbated by hunger. This includes expanded access to basic health services, rehabilitated health facilities to ensure adequate treatment, and mobile health and nutrition teams to provide medical supplies and treatment in rural areas. To prevent outbreaks of infectious diseases such as cholera and measles, USAID funding will bolster critical water, sanitation, and hygiene support throughout Somalia to include new latrines and handwashing stations, rehabilitated water and sanitation systems, and hygiene kits. 
  • Protection for women and children to prevent gender-based violence – USAID is providing medical supplies, healthcare, and psychosocial support for survivors of gender-based violence and exploitation often intensified during crises such as drought. This includes specialized training for healthcare staff to mitigate gender-based violence, alongside the creation of safe spaces and counseling for women and girls with a special emphasis on communities displaced by the drought, as well as child protection services and family reunification assistance.

Today’s funding also includes $15 million in development assistance, subject to congressional approval, in development assistance in Somalia to help farmers stay productive by equipping them with vouchers to obtain seeds and tools, maintaining and extending canals so they can water their crops, and providing community grants to improve and build storage and processing facilities. 

A portion of today’s funding for Somalia is included in the additional Ukraine supplemental and is part of the $2.76 billion in USAID assistance announced by President Joe Biden on June 27, 2022. It is immediately being programmed to address the most dire impacts of the global food security crisis and historic drought in countries with high levels of acute food insecurity, reliance on Russian and Ukrainian imports, and vulnerability to price shocks. 

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