Poverty in SomaliaFollowing the aftermath of civil war and prolonged conflict, Somalia is now one of the most impoverished nations in the world. This is largely due to the collapse of the Somali Democratic Republic in 1991, an event that divided the country. War waged, killing thousands of native Somalis. Conflict flipped the lives of the Somali people upside down in what seemed like an instant. Many had to flee their homes in order to survive. Today, the poverty rate in Somalia is 73%, leaving most of what is left of the nation poor and struggling to survive.

A Divided Country

Lack of an active central government is a leading cause of poverty. The fractured condition that Somalia is in renders it impossible to put policies in place. Moreover, the region of Somaliland declares itself as an independent country. Somaliland has been fortunate enough to experience more stability than the rest of the country. It has even been able to rebuild much of its infrastructure since 1991. Although internationally recognized as a part of Somalia, the government of Somaliland refuses to attend “peace talks aimed at unifying” the nation. Somaliland acts as an example as to how the division in the nation’s government increases the nation’s poverty as a whole.

Mortality Rate and Poverty

The mortality rate in Somalia is high because of this poverty. About 70% of the Somali population is 30-years-old or younger. The life expectancy rate is roughly 57 years. This low life expectancy is due to a variety of poverty-related causes, such as poor infrastructure, lack of formal access to healthcare and sanitation issues. The havoc that civil war unleashed on the country has resulted in poor infrastructure. Because infrastructure is so poor, access to electricity, clean water and other basic utilities varies from household to household with most lacking one or more.

Somalis are forced to pay for everything by either bartering, working or selling what they have. This process takes a severe toll on their mental and physical health. The lack of health insurance makes treating these resulting health issues nearly impossible for Somalis since most cannot afford private healthcare. This cycle continues and builds upon itself, furthering the state of poverty that Somalia is already facing. Furthermore, there are few jobs available for young Somalis as the nation has remained in shambles from the violence over the past 20 years. The result is 67% of the youth in Somalia being left without jobs or a way to pay for their basic needs.

The Future of Poverty in Somalia

As long as the nation remains divided and people are forced to resort to violence for basic needs such as food and water, the problem of poverty in Somalia will persist. Successful nations that understand how to help must invest more time and money into aiding the people of Somalia. Save the Children Somalia is a successful NGO that works to end child poverty in Somalia by raising money and using it to directly impact the children living within this impoverished nation.

The organization provides health, nutrition, water, sanitation, hygiene, education and food security services to impoverished Somalis. It also communicates with the Somali government to implement better strategies in these areas. By the end of 2017, Save the Children had reached 2,814,381 people, 1,717,809 were Somali children. The organization has different branches for child protection, education and children’s rights.

War and conflict have taken Somalia from a home to a land of poverty and struggle. Since the Civil War, Somalia has been trying to pick up the pieces of a life that once was. With the help of non-profit organizations and efforts, there is hope that one day Somalia can overcome poverty and rise again as a strong nation for its people.

Alexis Page
Photo: Flickr

food insecurity in ethiopia
Despite the fact that Ethiopia has a stronger economy than many other countries in the sub-Saharan region of Africa, it still remains one of the world’s least developed countries. In 2017, Ethiopia ranked 173 out of 189 countries and territories in the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Index (HDI). Food insecurity contributes to a lack of development in Ethiopia.

Drought, Conflict, and IDPs

Drought is one of the principal sources of food insecurity in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is currently suffering from the lingering effects of past droughts. There have been two devastating droughts in Ethiopia since 2015, which has forced many out of their homes in search of food and basic services. Droughts are a primary factor in the creation of internal refugees, or internally displaced person (IDPs) in Ethiopia.

Currently, nearly three million Ethiopians are categorized as IDPs. In addition to drought, the number of IDPs has increased due to a surge in ethnic violence, particularly along the Oromiya-Somali regional border. Nearly 600,000 individuals from the Oromiya and Somali regions have become IDPs.

The combination of drought, displacement, violence and underdevelopment has resulted in widespread food insecurity in Ethiopia. Due to this, roughly 7% of the population relies on food aid. The U.S. Government has been heavily involved in battling food insecurity in Ethiopia. Currently, food insecurity and under-nutrition are two of the greatest economic hindrances in Ethiopia.

Here are five things you need to know about the United States’ involvement in addressing food insecurity in Ethiopia.

5 Ways the U.S. Helps Food Insecurity in Ethiopia

  1. “Feed the Future,” an initiative launched by the Obama Administration in 2010, has been one of the more successful programs in promoting food security in Ethiopia: Feed the Future worked in different areas in Ethiopia from 2013 to 2015 and reduced the prevalence of poverty in those areas by 12 percent. Additionally, in 2017, those who were reached by Feed the Future generated $40 million in agricultural sales and received $5.7 million in new private investment. The economy and food security in Ethiopia are closely intertwined because the nation’s economy is dependent on agriculture. Agriculture-led economic growth, therefore, has been one the primary missions of Feed the Future within Ethiopia.
  2. The US has focused on restoring Ethiopia’s potato and sweet potato supply due to its high source of Vitamin A as a means of reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia: In June 2016, The USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) supported the International Potato Center (CIP) to assist drought-affected farmers in planting potatoes and sweet potatoes. Due to this support, the CIP was able to provide sweet potato seeds to nearly 10,000 farmers and trained more than 11,300 men and women on various ways to incorporate this vitamin-rich vegetable into more of their meals. The USAID/OFDA continues to support programs that promote the development of critical agriculture, such as sweet potatoes, in Ethiopia.
  3. Mobile Health and Nutrition Teams (MHNTs) are working in Ethiopia to help manage issues of malnutrition: The USAID’s OFDA and UNICEF have partnered together to deploy MHNTs in order to provide malnutrition screenings, basic health care services, immunizations and health education. The team also offered patient referrals when necessary. In 2017, 50 MHNTs provided 483,700 individuals in the Afar and Somali regions of Ethiopia with life-saving health and nutritional services.
  4. Humanitarian assistance has been essential in reducing severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in children: Although USAID provides resources to help treat SAM, 38 percent of children under five still have stunted growth due to malnutrition. As of March 2018, 31,066 children were admitted and treated for SAM. Approximately 30 percent of these cases were in the Somali region due to the region’s issue with ethnic violence and drought. Significantly more assistance is needed in the Somali region in order to sufficiently manage malnutrition.
  5. Humanitarian assistance has been one of the primary reasons Ethiopia has not entered into a state of emergency for food insecurity: Although increased rainfall and a reduction in disease outbreak have helped minimize food insecurity in Ethiopia, the country would be much worse off without the help of humanitarian aid. Currently, Ethiopia is in crisis, which is phase three of five on the food insecurity scale. The phases include minimal, stressed, crisis, emergency and famine. Experts from the Famine Early Warning Systems Networks report that “Ethiopia would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance.”

Looking Forward

The need for humanitarian aid will increase as Ethiopia’s population rapidly grows. Currently, Ethiopia ranks second in Africa for the number of refugees the country hosts. Nearly 100 percent of these refugees originate from South Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. Ethiopia currently hosts over 920,262 registered refugees and asylum seekers as of May 31, 2018.

The number of asylum seekers in Ethiopia will continue to grow because Ethiopia has an open-door asylum policy. As Ethiopia’s population continues to grow due to this policy, food sources will become increasingly strained. The need for humanitarian assistance to promote sustainable agriculture and farming practices, therefore, has become essential for reducing food insecurity in Ethiopia.

Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr