Blog Post

Famine Averted, But Somalia Still at Risk

Somalia will likely avoid widespread famine, due to scaled up humanitarian assistance and marginally improved rainfall; however, the situation within the country remains critical. After three consecutive years of drought, millions of Somalis are facing acute food insecurity and hunger, and the risk of famine remains in several areas of the country.

According to FEWS Net, while rainfall in the country improved in recent months, precipitation is still expected to be significantly below average through June. More than 6.5 million people will need continued humanitarian aid to help bolster incomes and livelihoods and prevent worsening hunger. Such aid has played a critical role in preventing famine over the past year, with food aid reaching nearly 5.5 million people per month on average since July 2022. FEWS Net highlights that this aid has come mostly in the form of cash transfer, which has allowed households to enhance their resilience by purchasing not only food and water but also seeds and livestock fodder and by paying down household debt.

This cash assistance, coupled with improved rainfall and declining global food prices, has also helped reduce the local price of staple foods and increase household purchasing power slightly. However, cereal prices remain 10-70 percent above average in all major markets.

The most recent Integrated Food Security Phase (IPC) analysis places nearly 5 million people in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) or higher levels of food insecurity between January and March 2023, highlighting the fact that the crisis is far from over. If the next season of rains fail and if humanitarian assistance slows or is hindered, famine will again be a major concern.

To adequately address this crisis, policymakers and international development partners need to scale up immediate access to food, water, and sanitation, particularly in rural areas and areas impacted by conflict in the short term. In the longer term, humanitarian aid should be focused on protecting livelihoods (such as through the provision of cash transfers) and bolstering food production wherever possible.