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Somalia at Risk of Hunger Crisis Recurrence

SOS Children's Village
Saturday, July 07, 2012

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Violence and drought are causing a fresh crisis in the wake of last year’s famine in Somalia, warns one charity. The last famine saw extreme levels of child mortality to due starvation.

The international aid group, Save the Children, worries that hundreds of thousands of children in Somalia could be at risk of hunger yet again in the times ahead.

More funds are needed to help bolster the precarious recovery from the 2011 famine in East Africa that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people when the region was hit by the worst droughts in six decades. Among the casualties of hunger-related illnesses in only a three-month span at the height of the crisis, were 29,000 children.

Adding to the food insecurity situation at the time was the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Somalis within their own country and across borders into Kenya and Ethiopia. Civil war has besieged Somalia since 1991 and the ousting of former dictator, Siad Barre.

Now, just half a year after the United Nations (UN) declared an official end to the famine that affected six zones of the country, hunger is once again stalking the Horn of Africa. At present, more than 1.3 million people in Somalia are still believed displaced by war and drought.

With faltering rains, “We're going to have a very late harvest,” Save the Children worker Anne Mitaru told the BBC's Network Africa. To boot, food prices are high.

The success of international humanitarian relief efforts and donations from around the world may unravel without continued support. Save the Children officials have called for the underlying issues putting families at risk to be addressed. Some of these issues include conflict, food prices, climate challenges and poverty.

“We need a step-change in approach towards Somalia: a shift away from simply responding to hunger emergencies towards a long-term commitment to tackle the issues that give rise to them,” Sonia Zambakides, the group’s Humanitarian Director in Somalia, as reported in the Irish Times.

In poor countries, families can sometimes spend between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of their household incomes on food. Even modest prices increases can put struggling families over the edge and plunge them into hunger.

Global financial institution, the World Bank, does not see famine in Somalia’s near future, but does say the current environment is “serious,” reports the BBC. Meanwhile, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network has warned of poor rains vital for the harvest,but  famine is not expected, either.

Earlier this year, Save the Children, in partnership with Oxfam Canada, launched a report on the international community's failure to act in time to prevent the 2011 famine. The report, A Dangerous Delay: The Cost of Late Response to Early Warnings in the 2011 Drought in the Horn of Africa, shows that despite warnings months in advance, countries did not act until the crisis hit.



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