Voice of America (Washington, DC)

18 July 2014

Somalia Declares Drought As Food Prices Skyrocket

The Somali government has declared a drought in six regions as monitors warn that food prices are soaring in the affected areas.

The government on Thursday established a $500,000 drought relief fund and renewed an appeal for international help to combat growing shortages of food and water.

Somali Agriculture Minister Abdi Ahmed Mohamed told VOA's Somali Service that officials hope to prevent a repeat of the famine three years ago that killed more than 200,000 Somalis and forced hundreds of thousands more to flee to neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

"The purpose of this government measure is avoid the situation we witnessed back in 2011, and enable our various institutions to be ready for any swift action to support and assist those affected by the drought," Mohamed said.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network warned Friday that food prices are rising rapidly in several areas, a situation it blames mainly on inter-clan fighting and efforts by al-Shabab militants to cut off towns under government control.

In Xudur, in the Bakool region, the price of the staple food red sorghum was 142 percent higher in June compared to one year earlier, according to the U.S.-funded network, which noted that humanitarian access to some areas is "nearly non-existent," and that informants in those areas report increased levels of acute malnutrition.

The drought-affected regions include Gedo, Bakool, Galgadud, Hiran and Lower and Middle Shabelle.

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