Powerful Photos Reveal a Nation in Crisis as Drought Hits
Last Tuesday, the country’s government declared the current drought a national disaster.
Right now, the UN estimates nearly 3 million people in Somalia are in need of emergency assistance.
A drought turns into a famine when there is no safety net, and Somalia, battered by decades of war and drought, has none.
Last month, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, a consortium of climate scientists and humanitarian groups, warned that if rain doesn’t come famine is expected.
“It’s a chronically food insecure region, so it doesn’t take much of a push for the climate to have a big impact,” says Bradfield Lyon, an associate professor at the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute.
Chris Funk, research director for UC Santa Barbara’s Climate Hazards Group, says the recent increase in drought regularity in the region is “unprecedented” in his 20 years of work.
In November, he issued a forecast warning that the rainy season in Somalia would be grim.
Famine is officially declared when the United Nations determines that 20 percent of households can’t cope with food shortage, acute malnutrition exceeds 30 percent, and the death toll rises beyond two people per every 10,000.
“It’s caused when people can’t afford to buy food.” This latest drought is showing parallels in food prices and climate conditions.
Funk hopes that improved early tracking systems and humanitarian response will offset this.