Eight warnings of catastrophe so far

Pastoralists suffer shortage of water and are worried that they will loose many cattle because of drought.

July 20th marks three years since the UN declared famine in Somalia . The catastrophe facing the Somali people three years ago ended in at least 260,000 people dying, half of them children. In May this year, 26 organisations came together to call for the world to remember Somalia. The country faces a constant battle against apathy with the International Community managing to forget about the fact that nearly 3 million people – a third of the population – are in severe crisis.

The UN also raised the alarm with Somalia’s UN’s Humanitarian Coordinator highlighting the huge funding gap we face. The Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Valerie Amos also addressed the UN Security Council to highlight how fragile and worrying the situation in Somalia is.

At that stage, the common appeal for humanitarian funds for Somalia was only 19% funded. In the past few weeks we have seen more money come through and the appeal now stands at 27%. Although this is a good step forward, there is still a huge funding gap and the UN has also raised concerns that life saving programmes are at risk of closing. This will lead to an increase in preventable deaths, unless major donors step up and take responsibility to save lives in Somalia.

Now 28 NGOs have again come together to demonstrate what needs to happen in Somalia. The briefing  “Risk of Relapse: Call to Action” [LINK to briefing]highlights the sort of activities needed in the next three to six weeks and the next three to six months, in sectors such as healthcare; water, sanitation and hygiene, nutrition and other areas.  They may seem like minor solutions like provision of diesel to river based communities to support crop production, or cash for training on nutrition, but together they add up to a package of that can prevent people from falling into extreme need.

This briefing along with the UN’s combined response plan, provide a plan for action and how much is needed to deliver for people.  There are constant concerns about security and fear of aid diversion in Somalia, but these must not be used as excuses for inaction.  The fact is these agencies working on the ground continue to reach people in need and aid gets to those who need it.  We are able to tackle the crisis.

We have now had eight early warnings of a worsening emergency in Somalia. In the run up to the Somalia famine in 2011, we had 16 such warnings. We have shown today that action is possible and urgent. This all adds up to donors needing to put their hands in their pockets immediately to divert us from the path to catastrophe.

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Written by Ed Pomfret

Ed Pomfret

Ed Pomfret is head of the GROW campaign which aims to fix the broken food system, focusing on land rights, climate change and agriculture. He has worked at Oxfam for over seven years: as campaign manager on conflict and humanitarian issues, regional campaigns and policy manager for the Horn East & Central Africa, and campaigns & policy manager for Oxfam Somalia. He specialises in working with communities in countries to overcome poverty. Before Oxfam he worked on environmental issues, campaigning on ancient forest destruction and climate change for a decade. At Oxfam he worked on many of the major humanitarian crises of our time in DRC, Afghanistan, South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, the Haiti earthquake, major Pakistan floods, and food crises in the Horn of Africa and Sahel, before moving back into the environment and development field as head of Oxfam's GROW campaign.

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