The United Nations on Thursday warned that Somalia’s “rapidly worsening” drought has left more than two million people facing severe food and water shortages, adding that a fourth consecutive season of poor rainfall in the conflict-stricken country is also looming.
“About 2.3 million people in 57 of 74 districts… are ravaged by serious water, food and pasture shortages as water pans and boreholes have dried up,” raising the risk of water-borne diseases, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.
The UN agency further said that the dire situation has already forced nearly 100,000 people to flee their homes in search of food, water and pasture for their livestock. In recent years, natural disasters have been seen as the main driver of displacement in Somalia, a nation that ranks among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change.
“A perfect storm is brewing in Somalia,” said Adam Abdelmoula, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator for the country, calling for urgent action to prevent famine conditions from taking hold.
Somalia’s minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, Khadija Diriye, warned that families are likely to starve to death as they continue to lose their livestock and slip deeper into poverty.
“I am particularly worried about children, women, the elderly and disabled people who continue to bear the brunt of Somalia’s humanitarian crisis,” she said.
Failed rains and flooding have reportedly caused widespread crop failures and lead to piled pressure on livestock-dependent communities in Kenya and South Sudan this year. The United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR, last month described the South Sudan floods as the worst ever in some areas since 1962, attributing the downpours on climate change.