Over $710 million is urgently needed to avert a looming crisis caused by drought, aid agencies have warned.
They said the amount would be used to to provide critical, life-saving assistance to 4.5 million drought-affected Somalis in the most severely affected areas between now and the end of December.
The 2019 Gu rains (April-June) have dismally failed, resulting in a second consecutive below-average rainy season while Somalia is still recovering from the impact of the prolonged 2016-17 drought.
Except the 2018 Gu (April-June), every rainy season since late 2015 has been below average, leading to increased vulnerability and decreased coping ability. The 2019 Gu is the third driest on record since the early 1980s and has resulted in widespread crop failure and accelerated decline in livestock productivity.
Consequently, the number of people in crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity or worse is expected to reach 2.2 million by July, if aid is not scaled up. This is more than 40 per cent higher than January this year. Malnutrition, drought-related diseases and displacement are on the rise.
"The drought situation in Somalia has deteriorated rapidly and intensified much earlier than seen over the last decade. Somalia is at a critical juncture, and with sufficient resources, we can reactivate the structures that successfully avoided famine in 2017," said George Conway, the acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia.
"As we continue to work under the leadership of Somali authorities to rebuild resilience and address the underlying causes of such recurrent crises, it is now critical that everyone, including donors, the private sector, Somalis in-country and in the diaspora, rallies behind these collective response and prevention efforts," he added.
The impact of the drought threatens to reverse gains made in 2018. Immediate scale-up in humanitarian response is required to mitigate the effects of the latest drought that threatens to drive Somalia into a major humanitarian crisis, complemented by development efforts through the Government's Resilience and Recovery Framework, to ensure that Somalia is better prepared to face future shocks of this nature.
Limited resources constrain aid agencies' ability to launch a massive response, and activities are scaling back, including in critical sectors such as WASH, health, nutrition and food assistance in several drought-affected areas and urban centres receiving newly displaced people.
The 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan, which seeks $1.08 billion, is only 20 per cent funded amid growing needs.