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ICRC’s Response to Somalia’s Food Crisis

Somalia’s food crisis
Somalia is facing significant consequences as a direct result of changing weather patterns. The most serious is the food crisis and severe malnutrition it faces due to droughts, poor crop yields and livestock deaths. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has called for immediate action as the continuing conflict and rising food and energy costs will require immense humanitarian aid in 2023. The ICRC is tackling Somalia’s food crisis by implementing several programs and methods, including teams on the ground that provide water and food, financial help, nutrition services and health care (mobile health teams).

Somalia’s Food Crisis

Many different factors have led to the food crisis in Somalia. Changing weather patterns and the resulting “worst drought in 40 years” has left more than 7 million people without adequate food, British Red Cross reports. The droughts have prevented access to food and water and led to the death of livestock that Somalians depend on for their livelihood. Another factor that has contributed to Somalia’s food crisis is the conflict.

Conflict throughout Africa and the COVID-19 pandemic have led to the displacement of populations and a rise in food and fuel prices. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which produces a quarter of the world’s wheat and grains, is a significant contributor to the hunger crisis since Somalia relies on its exports for 90% of its wheat and grains, ICRC reports.

The rising food and energy costs are hurting communities steeped in armed conflict and violence. The ICRC has indicated that the price of food staples has risen to more than 30% in Somalia. The consequences of the food crisis in Somalia have left many exhausted as people are displaced and struggle to find necessities such as water and food. Many children are unable to attend school to fulfill their education needs.

Ultimately, as of May 2022, Somalia has seen drought affect 6.1 million people and the displacement of 760,000 people throughout the country without access to sufficient water, food and health care. An update that the ICRC provided in the month of August indicates that the internal displacement throughout Somalia due to the drought continues to rise. About 30,000 people experienced displacement in May 2022, 100,000 people in June 2022 and 83,000 people in July 2022, totaling more than a million people displaced in Somalia in 2022.

Emergency Funding For Families

One of the ways the ICRC is tackling the food crisis is by providing monthly payments of $90 to more than 150,000 families in the south and central parts of Somalia to help them purchase food and other necessities. As of the end of August 2022, the program had provided more than $13 million. The program’s outcome has seen positive results. One of the recipients, Dadir Ahmed Adan was able to use the money to open a small shop for $50 and save the rest of his money to buy food for his children after losing his livestock to the droughts.

The primary objective of this program is to help the most vulnerable people survive and minimize debt. The impact of the droughts has caused families to become displaced as they lost their livelihoods. They end up in desperate situations where they look for help from other family members or aid organizations.

Agricultural Cooperatives

Another way that the ICRC is tackling Somalia’s food crisis is by supporting agricultural cooperatives designed to help bear the brunt of changing weather patterns. The cooperatives involve training, farming tools, drought-resistant seeds and cash that is necessary for the fuel in order to irrigate. The ICRC cash assistance will continue distributing cash assistance to people in conflict-affected areas of Somalia and rehabilitating boreholes and wells. Communities will also benefit from primary health care services and mobile health clinics and support. Through this program, the ICRC has managed to help more than 150,000 families with life-saving assistance to purchase food and other necessities, following severe droughts in Somalia.

Provision Of Clean Water and Sanitation

The ICRC is also tackling Somalia’s food crisis by increasing the production and quality of water to alleviate the impact of droughts. This consists of “electromechanical quick fixes, re-drilling of boreholes, increasing the water storage by constructing elevated water tanks, water catchment systems, animal troughs and generator houses for strategic existing borehole/mechanized hand-dug well locations.”

Since the beginning of 2022, the ICRC has successfully distributed fuel and made quick fixes to 26 electro-mechanical boreholes. They completed the construction of five water reservoirs and half a dozen hand-dug wells and rainwater catchment systems. They have also constructed community water sand filters and animal troughs.

The ICRC’s success in aiding drought-stricken regions comes from their initiative and determination, along with support from local communities. The organization ensures that the most vulnerable people in Somalia have the means and access to clean water and sanitation and that these facilities have proper maintenance and improvement.

Road Ahead

The work that the ICRC conducted in response to the food crisis continues and the challenges for 2023 are ever-present. This is a year where humanitarian support is greatly necessary and the ICRC has appealed for $2.9 billion to fund its work in 2023. The ICRC expects the situation to get worse throughout the year, with children and the elderly being the most affected.

– Arijit Joshi
Photo: Flickr