Famine declared in three new areas of Southern Somalia

Issued: August 3, 2011

NAIROBI/WASHINGTON AUGUST 3, 2011 – New evidence indicates that both the prevalence of acute malnutrition and rates of crude mortality have surpassed famine thresholds in the agropastoral areas of Balcad and Cadale districts of Middle Shabelle, the Afgoye corridor IDP settlement, and the Mogadishu IDP community. Food access indicators in these areas surpassed the famine threshold earlier this year.  As a result, FSNAU and FEWS NET have now classified these areas as IPC Phase 5 – Famine. These three areas join the Bakool agropastoral livelihood zone and the Lower Shabelle region, where famine was declared on July 20th.  A humanitarian emergency persists across all other regions of southern Somalia, and tens of thousands of excess deaths have already occurred. Despite increased attention in recent weeks, current humanitarian response remains inadequate, due in part to ongoing access restrictions and difficulties in scaling-up emergency assistance programs, as well as funding gaps. As a result, famine is expected to spread across all regions of the south in the coming four to six weeks and is likely to persist until at least December 2011. Continued efforts to implement an immediate, large-scale, and comprehensive response are needed. Nationwide, 3.7 million people are in crisis, with 3.2 million people in need of immediate, lifesaving assistance (2.8 million in the south).

The current crisis in southern Somalia is driven by a combination of factors. The total failure of the October-December Deyr rains (secondary season) and the poor performance of the April-June Gu rains (primary season) have resulted in crop failure, reduced labor demand, poor livestock body conditions, and excess animal mortality. The resulting decline in maize and sorghum availability has subsequently pushed local cereal prices to record levels and, in combination with reduced livestock prices and wages, substantially reduced household purchasing power in all livelihood zones. Large-scale displacement and significant limitations on humanitarian access have further exacerbated the situation.

FSNAU and FEWS NET will continue to monitor conditions and outcomes, update analysis, and report on current and projected levels of food insecurity and malnutrition. Joint food security and nutrition updates are released every ten days and the results of the 2011 Post-Gu seasonal assessment, which will cover the entire country, will be released on August 19th.  Repeated nutrition and mortality surveys will begin across southern Somalia in the next week and will continue for the foreseeable future. All information will be made available through the websites www.fews.net and www.fsnau.org.

Press Release: Famine thresholds surpassed in three new areas of southern Somalia (PDF, 355KB)

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