2017 Somali drought

As of February 2017 a drought ravages Somalia that has left more than 6 million people, or half the country's population, facing food shortages with several water supplies becoming undrinkable due to the possibility of infection.[1]

Map of drought and displacement in Somalia, 2017.

According to the Humanitarian Information Unit of the U.S. Government,over 2.9 million people in Somalia face crisis or emergency level acute food insecurity and need emergency food aid, as a result of below average to failed rains in many areas in 2016 that reduced crop production and harmed livestock. Somalia is currently facing its seventh consecutively poor harvest and food stability is a major issue. In the April-June rainy season little to no rainfall occurred across much of Somalia in April, but rain has begun and is forecasted in May. Lack of potable water has accelerated an acute watery diarrhea-cholera outbreak with an estimated 32,000 cases reported since the beginning of the year. 1.4 million children are projected to need treatment for acute malnutrition in 2017, according to the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF). FEWS NET expects 2.9 million people will remain in crisis and emergency levels of acute food insecurity through at least June 2017. In March 2017, 1.75 million people received international food assistance, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).[2]

An estimated 1.1 million IDPs currently live in Somalia, and at least 548,000 additional people have been displaced since November 2016 due to the drought. Most people displaced by drought left rural parts of Bay, Lower Shabelle, and Sool and settled in urban areas such as Mogadishu and Baidoa. Displacement numbers continue to rise as more people leave their homes and displacement monitoring increases. IOM and other UN agencies estimate that the number of IDPs, a highly vulnerable group in Somalia, will rise to 3 million by June if the April-June rains are below average or fail entirely. Additionally, since January 2016, about 56,000 former Somali refugees have returned from Kenya's Dadaab refugee camp to Somalia through UNHCR's voluntary repatriation program and have settled in Gedo, Bay, Lower Jubba, and Banaadir.[2]


Main causes of the drought and its impact are said to be instability, conflict and climate change with severe weather conditions potentially also playing a part.[3][4] El Niño may be the drought's cause.[5]

Humanitarian situationEdit

On 4 March, Somalia's prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire announced that at least 110 people died due to hunger and diarrhoea in Bay Region alone.[6]

The FAO Representative for Somalia, noted that the situation in many rural areas, particularly Bay, Puntland is starting to look "worryingly like the run-up to famine in 2010-2011".[7]

The International Organization for Migration also warns that if "action is not taken immediately, early warning signals point towards a growing humanitarian crisis in Somalia of potentially catastrophic proportions".[8]

Hassan Saadi Noor, Save the Children's Country Director in Somalia states:[9]

We're on the verge of a catastrophe similar to 2011 – or worse, as conditions now are markedly worse than in the lead-up to that event. A quarter of a million lives were needlessly lost then, and we know that action at this stage can make a difference. The international community must step up to ensure that tragic moment in history isn’t repeated.

In addition to drought and famine, diseases, such as cholera and measles are beginning to spread.[8]

As of March 2017, more than 8,400 cases of the cholera have already been confirmed since January, which have claimed 200 lives.[10] On 20 March 2017, at least 26 people died from hunger in the semi-autonomous Jubaland region of southern Somalia in the past 36 hours, according to the state media.[11]

As of July 2017, unclean drinking water has caused over 71,000 cases of cholera or severe diarrhea in 2017, resulting in nearly 1,100 deaths.[12]

Calls for responseEdit

Immediate responseEdit

On 2 February 2017 a senior United Nations humanitarian official in Somalia warned of a famine in some of the worst drought-affected areas without a massive and urgent scale up of humanitarian assistance in the coming weeks.[1][7] He also stated that the omission of such an immediate response "will cost lives, further destroy livelihoods, and could undermine the pursuit of key State-building and peacebuilding initiatives".[7] On 8 March 2017 United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres urged a massive scale up in international support to avert a famine.[13]

Adequate responseEdit

While the particular drought can only be dealt with by an immediate response some suggest foresight and preventive, long-term, more cost-efficient and appropriate measures. Esther Ngumbi, researcher at the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Auburn University in Alabama, suggests that Horn of Africa's repetitive cycles of drought and hunger crisis should be responded to with "strategic integration and coordination between governments and NGOs" to "help farmers become more resilient to drought and other climate change-related disaster". Furthermore she states that once this has been achieved, innovative ways to disseminate available information and solutions to farmers would be needed.[14] Mohamed Abdulkadir, field manager of Save the Children notes that food deliveries destroy local markets.[15] German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller suggested a billion-strong crisis-fund for the United Nations to allow it to act preventively.[16]


Government responseEdit

On 28 February 2017, Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declares the drought a national disaster.[17]


According to reports of 1 May 2017 in a visit to the country Germany's foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel pledged to at least doubling the 70 million euros of aid and stated in a press conference with Somali prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire that the "international state community has to do more against the famine catastrophe".[18][19][20] Furthermore he asks the international community to no longer view Somalia as a failed state "but as a state which laboriously struggles to recreate a reliable state structure" enabling it to "guarantee security".[21]


On 11 May 2017 the international conference on Somalia took place in London. There Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed showed plans for security in the country. According to Sigmar Gabriel over half the needed financial resources have been brought together.[22][23]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Drought in Somalia: Time is Running Out". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  2. ^ a b The preceding text is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work prepared by an officer or employee of the United States Government as part of that person’s official duties under the terms of Title 17, Chapter 1, Section 105 of the US Code.
  3. ^ "This Is A Worsening Humanitarian Crisis That Shows No Signs Of Slowing". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  4. ^ "Famine fears rise as Somalia suffers worst drought in decades". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  5. ^ "Hungerkrise in Somalia: Millionen Menschen brauchen Hilfe" (in German). Tagesschau. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  6. ^ "Hassan Ali Khaire: Hunger, disease kill 110 in two days". Al Jazeera. 4 March 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "Urgent scale-up in funding needed to stave off famine in Somalia, UN warns". Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  8. ^ a b McKenzie, David; Swails, Brent. "Somalia: 'People are dying..there's no water'". CNN. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Somalia reaching a 'tipping point' as signs of malnutrition among children worsen". Save the Children International. 21 February 2017. Archived from the original on 9 March 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Aid agency warns of surge in cholera cases in Somalia". Xinhua. 11 March 2017. More than 8,400 cases of the diseases have already been confirmed in 2017, 200 of which have been fatal
  11. ^ "Hunger kills dozens in Southern Somalia amid Drought". Shabelle News. 21 March 2017. Archived from the original on 24 March 2017. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  12. ^ "Hundreds of Thousands of Somalis Displaced by Drought, Conflict". Voice of America. 30 July 2017.
  13. ^ ""The world must act now to stop this," UN chief Guterres says on visit to drought-hit Somalia". UNSOM. 8 March 2017. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  14. ^ "How to tackle repetitive droughts in the Horn of Africa". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  15. ^ "Somalia: "Wenn keine Hilfe kommt, werden sie sterben" - heute-Nachrichten" (in German). Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 26 February 2017.
  16. ^ "Mit dem Vieh verhungern die Menschen - Somalia vor der Katastrophe | Aktuell Afrika | DW.COM | 26.02.2017" (in German). Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  17. ^ "Somalia declares 'national disaster' over drought". Al Jazeera. 1 March 2017.
  18. ^ "Hungersnot in Somalia: Deutschland will Hilfe verdoppeln" (in German). Tagesschau. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  19. ^ "Außenminister in Somalia: Gabriel am Horn des Hungers". SPIEGEL ONLINE. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  20. ^ "Germany pledges 70 million euros to aid Somalia fight hunger". ABC News. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  21. ^ "Germany's Gabriel makes surprise visit to Somalia". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 1 May 2017.
  22. ^ "Somalia-Konferenz: Wieder nicht genug". tagesschau.de (in German). Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  23. ^ "Kommentar: 17 Seiten für den Frieden | Kommentare | DW.COM | 11.05.2017" (in German). Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 14 May 2017.

External linksEdit