According to a new survey conducted by Oxfam International and based on 1 802 household interviews and 240 focus groups in 40 regions of Somalia, recent poor rains, falling incomes and high food prices were increasing the risk of preventable disease and forcing people to rely on aid.
Oxfam alarmed on 8 October that the situation in the south of the country remained critical with disturbing malnutrition figures and a possibility of deterioration due to food and water shortages. According to the agency, almost three quarters of people questioned were concerned they will not have enough to eat over the next four months because of the loss of livestock and livelihoods during last year’s drought, and continued insecurity and poor rains this year.
In addition, the most vulnerable groups to the shortages in water and food supply were found to be pregnant women and children under five. According to the results of the survey, despite the fact that malnutrition rates have slightly improved compared to this time last year, when more than 260 000 children were acutely malnourished, the situation remained critical across the southern regions of the African country. Moreover, according to estimates of the agency, 236 000 children remained acutely malnourished, while the most affected regions included South East Gedo, Lower Juba and Bakool.
Even more striking, the survey of Oxfam showed that 42% of the Somali respondents were already skipping meals, while 18% said they were eating less per meal and the equivalent to just 50 cents per person per day were spent on food and fuel.
The results also showed that many people were still reliant on food, water and other aid provided by local and international agencies. This finding urged the agency to call on the humanitarian community to maintain support for Somalia at what it believed was a ‘critical moment’.
In that respect, Oxfam’s country director for Somalia, Senait Gebregziabher, said:’ thankfully, it is unlikely Somalia will fall back into famine in the near future but it is clear many of Somalia’s poorest people are still living on a knife-edge. The international community must not allow a false sense of security to develop based on shoots of recovery in the capital – we must act now across the whole country to avoid a worsening crisis’.
In 2011, the severe drought in the Horn of Africa, in particular in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia and Djibouti caused one of the most dramatic humanitarian crises of this century, affecting more than 13 million people. This was also the first time since 1992, when the United Nations declared famine exactly because of food shortage in parts of southern Somalia.
Since the beginning of the famine, the European Union has provided the total amount of 788 million euro to the region. The European Commission alone has allocated 181 million euro of humanitarian aid in 2011 in order to assist 6.5 million vulnerable people.