Why Somalia has a High Malnutrition Rate

Over the past years, famine and food insecurity have threatened the lives of thousands of people in Somalia. These threats were, and are, some of the worst in decades. The famine in 2011 was the first famine in the Horn of Africa in over 30 years—it killed 250,000 people. Currently, about 1 million people in Somalia are food insecure and are in desperate need of assistance. There are around 236,000 children under 5 who are malnourished.

What makes Somalia so prone to these famines and to having high malnutrition rates?

For 20 years, Somalia has been in conflict. Civil war destroyed the nation. It affects how much food can be grown and destroys crops. People have to flee and cannot tend to their crops and livestock.

The conflict left the country in a state of political turmoil. So, when the drought hit in 2011, Somalia was unable to deal with the disaster. People did not receive aid from the government and foreign aid had difficulty reaching its people.

Droughts, as well as floods, continue to plague Somalia. Having crops destroyed every so many years makes it difficult to make progress in decreasing the malnutrition rate. Additionally, with a still unstable government, aid was not there. In 2014, the country once again had a threat of another famine, with up to 3 million people in need of aid.

Also contributing to the cause of high malnutrition rates is the lack of development in the younger generations. Only 42 percent of children are enrolled in school, with less than half of them being girls. Young people make up 42 percent of the population, with 67 percent of them unemployed because of a lack of education.

Without an education, these youths cannot get jobs to earn a steady income, one that would be enough to provide food for their children. The children are raised in poverty, with little food. Unlikely to escape poverty, the next generation will most likely fall in the same category. It is a difficult cycle to break, one that can contribute to the high malnutrition rates in Somalia.

Despite the hardship in Somalia, the World Food Program continues to work in Somalia to lower malnutrition rates. They provide job vocational trainings so that youths can get a job. They hand out food rations to attract parents to send their children, especially daughters to school. The WFP continues to provide nutritional and health aid in Somalia.

– Katherine Hewitt

Sources: Action Against Hunger, BBC, Huffington Post, WFP, UNICEF
Photo: Global Giving