Today the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) announces its latest data from Somalia.
125,000 children no longer face severe malnutrition – thanks largely to the efforts of the Somalis themselves and the humanitarian aid they’ve received. That can only be excellent news, but we must not be complacent. The situation in Somalia is still in the throes of its worst humanitarian crisis in decades. Insecurity is already disrupting the supply of aid to tens of thousands of people at a critical time in the crisis. The gains made so far could be reversed if the conflict worsens, if access becomes more difficult than it already is, or if there is a reduction in aid from the international community. The world shouldn’t turn its back on Somalia, solely because statistics say there is no longer a famine.
We are seriously concerned that if people do not have the security to tend their crops and animals, or the freedom to access clean water and food in the markets, the humanitarian situation will deteriorate once again.
The latest figures from the FSNAU show that rains at the end of last year have led to a good harvest in the river areas. Information from Oxfam’s partners in Somalia also indicates that humanitarian aid is reaching people in some of the regions that are worst-affected by the food crisis. Recovery of Somali farmers and pastoralists has been supported through investment in agriculture and pastoral livelihoods by humanitarian actors. This includes provision of seeds, tools, tractors, training and infrastructure repair. This aid will make a major difference in their recovery; according to the FSNAU 2.34 million people are still in crisis.
We are seeing improvements in Somalia due to a good harvest and effective humanitarian aid, but the fear is that conflict threatens to jeopardize these gains. The numbers of people affected in Ethiopia were reduced from 4 million to 3.2 million at the beginning of January. New data on the situation in Kenya is expected at the end of the month. The numbers however only provide part of the picture.
Whilst we are clearly seeing improvements in food security across the region, the situation remains precarious, and even in the best case scenarios, it is important to bear in mind that it will still take many more months until populations are able to fully recover from this crisis. Long term solutions are needed in order to prevent further crises.