The humanitarian situation in Somalia is rapidly deteriorating and famine is a strong possibility in 2017. This comes only six years after a devastating famine led to the death of more than a quarter of a million people – half of them children. The severe drought is a result of two consecutive seasons of poor rainfall, more in some areas. In the worst affected areas, large-scale crop failure and high levels of livestock detahs are occuring. Communities are forced to sell their assets, and borrow food and money to survive. Increasing competition for resources such as water is already increasing local tensions and could trigger further inter-communal tensions.
A large scale-up of the drought response in February and March can help prevent the worst-case humanitarian scenario and save lives and livelihoods. This will also help preserve important political and security gains made in recent years and contribute to state-building and peace-building initiatives. A total of US$825 million is requested for the first half of 2017 to reach 5.5 million people with life-saving assistance and livelihood support.
A drought – even one this severe – does not automatically lead to a catastrophe if humanitarian partners respond early enough with timely support from the international community.
There are significant differences and opportunities today, compared to the 2011 famine, including a more engaged donor community, closely following the situation on the ground.
Humanitarian partners have a better footprint now than in 2011, allowing for a more granular analysis of the situation and enabling better targeted scale-up. There are systems in place for rapid scale-up of Cash based programming, systems which were only starting up back in 2011. Enhanced engagement with local actors and improved coordination with the Federal Government and State-level authorities has helped ensure a more joined up reading of the situation, allowing partners to increasingly be on the same page in terms of scope and scale of the crisis, and enhancing accountability. Stronger partnership with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and Muslim charities allows for better coordination and collaboration across various aid streams. Improved engagement with local partners and enhanced risk management systems have helped ensure greater efficiency and more accountable spending of resources.
Building on lessons learned from the 2011 famine, this Operational Plan outlines the main needs, gaps and plans for response by humanitarian partners in the first half of 2017 to prevent a famine. It is based on the worst-case scenario given that even if the Gu rains are better than foreseen, the crisis is already at a point where much of the damage has been done.
Of the US$825 million required for the first half of 2017 to reach 5.5 million people with life-saving assistance and livelihood support, $35 million have already been contributed by donors, according to Financial Tracking Services as of mid-February, hereof $18 million from the Central Emergency Response Fund and $14 million channelled through the Somalia Humanitarian Fund. These requirements reflects an increase in operational requirements which will lead to an associated increase in the Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan.