Somalia: Drought displaces 745,000 people
Three-quarters of a million people have now been forced from their homes by worsening drought in Somalia. With famine looming, and conflict in Ukraine driving up food costs, the situation is at tipping point.

Following three failed rainy seasons, 745,000 people have been displaced by drought in Somalia since the start of last year, including 500,000 in the first quarter of 2022, the latest figures from the Protection and Return Monitoring Network show.

Of those displaced this year, almost two-thirds fled to urban districts including Mogadishu, adding pressure on already limited services and overpopulated displacement camps.

“As Somalia hits this tragic milestone, with hundreds of thousands of people forced to flee seeking food and water, the international community must finally take action,” said Mohamed Abdi, Country Director for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Somalia.

“The people of Somalia are facing a very real risk of famine. Help is desperately needed to save lives, with urgent financial support, and it is needed now, not in a few months.”

Forecasts for the April-June rains are poor. Somalia faces the prospect of famine should these rains fail and help not arrive.

Drought has contributed to loss of income, conflict, displacement, rising cost of basic goods, and the wiping out of crops and livestock herds, resulting in the current food and displacement crisis. An injection of funds by international donors could help curb the worst effects.

“In 2011 more than a quarter of a million people died as a result of drought and famine – we will come to regret our lack of action if we let history repeat itself,” Abdi said. “Even if the worst-case scenario is avoided, damage is already done and will be massive, with dried out crops and dead livestock driving preventable hunger and suffering for the foreseeable future.”

Exacerbating the situation, almost all of Somalia’s wheat comes from Ukraine or Russia, with prices already spiking for wheat, sugar and oil in parts of the country.

To date, the UN’s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is less than five percent funded, meaning devastating shortfalls to meet Somalia’s record-breaking humanitarian needs. NRC is currently appealing for USD 20 million to support its ongoing efforts to assist more than half a million of those hardest hit with drinking water, food, basic income, and support for livelihoods.