Article / Drought / Drylands / East Africa / Food Security / Nigeria / Somalia / South Sudan / Vulnerability

No exit strategy: More than 100 Somali’s, mostly young and old, have died of hunger and disease


Goat carcasses piled up outside a refugee camp in Somalia (photo credit: Andrew Renneisen/Getty Images). 

As First-World political issues continue to consume the publics of the North, more than one hundred vulnerable people of the South—most of them old and young—have died from lack of food and water-borne diseases in a 48-hour period in the rural Bay administrative region of southwestern Somalia. This hot and semi-arid southern region is devastated by drought as well as by the operations of a militant Islamist group known as Al-Shabaab, which, affiliated to Al-Qaeda, is engaged in combat against what it sees as the enemies of Islam, including Somalia’s federal government and African Union peacekeeping forces.

Somalia maintains an informal economy largely based on livestock. For the many people living off the rain-fed land, there are few safety nets, and even fewer exit strategies, when the rains fail. A cow, a few goats, a donkey, these are the major assets of most households. Luxuries come in the form of a fertile womb, a good crop harvest. When animal stock begin dying in large numbers due to hunger and thirst, human deaths are sure to follow.

Somalia’s Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Haire, says 110 people have died from hunger in a single region in the past 48 hours amid a severe drought.

The figure for the south-western Bay region is the first official death toll announced during the crisis.

‘. . . Currently, almost three million people in Somalia face food insecurity.

‘Local news outlet Alldhacdo reported dozens of deaths due to cholera in the town of Awdinle, also in the Bay region. The disease is often spread due to lack of clean drinking water.


The famine-devastated Bay region (coloured deep red on left, light brown on right) of south-central Somalia (maps via Wikipedia [left] and [right]).

‘Somalia’s President, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, declared the drought a national disaster on Tuesday. . . .

Domestic animals are also dying in large numbers, and carcasses litter the landscape.

Nearly 260,000 people died during the famine that hit Somalia from 2010 to 2012. Some 220,000 people died during another famine in 1992.

‘The nation is one of four identified by the United Nations as currently at risk of extreme hunger and famine—along with Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. . . .

‘The United Nations uses famine as a technical term, which only applies in very specific circumstances:

  • When 20% of households cannot cope with food shortages
  • Acute malnutrition exceeds 30%
  • The death toll exceeds two people per day per 10,000 population’

Read the whole article at BBC News: Somalia drought: More than 100 die from hunger in one region, 4 Mar 2017.

Read more
ILRI Clippings blog: New USAID grant to asses projects aiming to reduce poverty and the need for food aid in Kenya’s drylands, 28 Feb 2017.
ILRI News blog: CGIAR livestock support is enhancing community resilience in the face of on-going drought in the Horn of Africa, 23 Feb 2017.
ILRI Clippings blog: As another drought bites the Horn, 12 million face food shortages in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, 7 Feb 2017.
Voice of America News: Somali president appeals for assistance as drought worsens, 19 Jan 2017.

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