Famine was declared in Somalia in 2011, affecting more than 12 million people in the Horn of Africa region. Some 260,000 people died of starvation.
The current crisis in East Africa is a result of several seasons of no or low rains, combined with the most extreme El Niño in 50 years. This has created an unprecedented situation. Some 19 million people in East Africa now face crisis levels of food insecurity – a 30 per cent increase compared to only a year ago.
Three consecutive years of drought and several years of diminished food production have resulted in crop failures, livestock deaths, lack of food, rising prices, migration and a severe shortage of clean water. Outbreaks of communicable disease have also been recorded at rising levels. Cases of acute watery diarrhoea have been recorded in Somalia in epidemic proportions. Many people in these areas are pastoral communities and heavily depend on livestock and farming.
The most urgent needs centre around food, nutrition, water and health. There is a need to both step up the immediate humanitarian response to save lives, and to prevent a catastrophe in the months ahead.