Famine looms in parts of Somalia unless humanitarian aid is scaled up, WFP warns

A woman carries a water container at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baidoa, Somalia. /AFP
A woman carries a water container at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Baidoa, Somalia. /AFP

Parts of Somalia will experience famine between October and December unless humanitarian aid is scaled up, the World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Monday.

The agency noted that despite life-saving assistance reaching more people than ever in the country, a devastating drought still threatens to worsen the food situation that has remained a challenge for months.

“Since April, we have more than doubled the number of people we are supporting with humanitarian assistance, reaching record numbers in Somalia,” said Margot van der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies, speaking from Mogadishu.

“But the drought crisis is still deteriorating and famine is closer than ever. The world must respond now, while we still have a chance to prevent catastrophe.”

WFP pointed out that the famine will affect the Baidoa and Burkhaba districts.

According to the last official national update, close to half the population of Somalia was facing acute food insecurity in June. The UN says that the situation has worsened since then, and updated figures are expected in the coming days.

Weather forecasts point to a looming unprecedented fifth consecutive failed rainy season, which would put many lives in the affected regions at risk.

The WFP said it is working to increase relief assistance in the coming months, to reach 4.5 million people with relief and 470,000 with nutrition treatment.