Children Are Dying of Malnutrition. Will World Leaders Step Up to Prevent a Catastrophe in Somalia?

March 20, 2023

Today, the first official death toll from the ongoing drought ravaging Somalia and other parts of the Horn of Africa was released. In Somalia, at least 43,000 people have died, half of them most likely children, and between 18,000 and 34,000 deaths are anticipated in the first half of this year.

Mercy Corps Country Director for Somalia, Daud Jiran says, 

"This number is truly haunting, and in the face of other crises, the world has largely ignored the stark fact that children continue to starve to death. 

Despite famine not being declared, people will continue to die if we do not take immediate action to prevent the worst-case scenario. No longer can the international community afford to turn a blind eye to the hunger crisis in Somalia until a full-blown humanitarian catastrophe has reached our doorstep.

We are now on the verge of a sixth drought season, with little rain forecast through June. The current humanitarian crisis is likely to worsen until at least late 2023 without significantly more assistance. We continue to see a large number of people arriving at displacement camps such as Baidoa and other major towns in need of urgent nutrition and food aid. Global donors must deploy more resources immediately as we continue to see disproportionate support from major donor countries. 

The new IPCC report warns today that we are on track to reach a critical threshold for global warming in the next decade, demonstrating that it is too late to focus solely on reducing emissions - countries like Somalia are already experiencing the devastation of the climate crisis, and will continue to do so unless we take decisive action to assist people in adapting to ongoing climate shocks like this.”

Since 2005, Mercy Corps has been providing water for livestock and families, hygiene kits to prevent disease spread, particularly in displacement camps, and cash to vulnerable families to help them purchase essential items like food, medicine, and clothing, all while supporting local markets. 

Since the beginning of the drought in 2021, Mercy Corps has delivered life-saving humanitarian assistance to almost 600,000 drought-affected people.