Somalia is facing a severe drought that threatens to be worse than the pre-famine conditions of 2016-17. With the failure of the 2019 Gu rains, meant to fall from April to June, Somalia faces its second consecutive below-average rainy season, while the country is still recovering from the impact of the previous drought.

By the end of this year, almost one million children are anticipated to be malnourished in Somalia, 175,000 of which will be severely malnourished which means without any external support their chances of survival are slim. 1.7 million people face acute food insecurity, more than double what we saw at this time in 2017, and that number is expected to reach 2.2 million by July.

Richard Crothers, Somalia Country Director at the International Rescue Committee, said,

“This current drought is set amidst conditions that in many ways are worse than what we saw in 2017. Even if some rains come this month, the damage is already done. The population has by no means recovered from the devastation of the pre-famine two years ago. It takes a considerable amount of time for people to recover from a major loss in their livelihoods and livestock. There just hasn’t been enough time for this to happen. People are already vulnerable and unable to shield themselves from a shock of this scale. Add to this, the water table has not sufficiently replenished, so boreholes are already getting tapped out much sooner.

What’s more is the numbers of those already displaced from their homes is almost double what they were prior to the 2017 drought. With over 2.6 million people displaced, we have a very different situation. The starting point of this 2019 drought is extremely concerning and we know things are only going to get worse. The international community must scale up its response and invest in early action and resilience programs now if we are to avert a major humanitarian disaster.”

The IRC is already operational in the main areas of concern, Puntland and central Somalia, and is significantly scaling up our programming to support families with healthcare for malnourished children, unconditional cash transfers to help people quickly get the support they need, rehabilitation of boreholes and water sources as well as mobile health services to reach deeper into hard hit areas.

The IRC began working in Somalia in 1981 in the aftermath of the Somalia-Ethiopia conflict. Over the years operations faced several interruptions due to insecurity and civil unrest but has been operating continuously since 2007.

Download photos of drought-affected populations in Somalia and the IRC’s response.

Learn more about the IRC’s work in Somalia.