Crisis in Somalia: IRC warns of Catastrophic hunger amid drought and conflict in 2023

For the first time ever, Somalia is pushed to the top of the International Rescue Committee’s Emergency Watchlist for the coming year, as a devastating drought, coupled with the effects of three decades of conflict, have created a catastrophic food crisis.

Somalia is in the midst of its fifth consecutive failed rainy season. By mid-2023, over 8 million people—nearly half of the population—will be living through crisis levels of food insecurity as the country faces an impending famine.

According to ICRC In Somalia, over 200,000 people are facing catastrophe-levels of food insecurity–the most severe designation there is. 

People are starving to death each day, and they are in physical pain from hunger. 


Their bodies cannot fight off diseases like diarrhea, measles or malaria, with children often dying at twice the rate of adults.

Human-caused climate change has increased the frequency and severity of droughts, decades of conflict have significantly eroded the country’s institutions and the combined damage to Somalia’s domestic food production have made the country dangerously reliant on imported grains—specifically from Ukraine and Russia.

While droughts occur periodically in East Africa, human-caused climate change likely explains the duration and severity of the current crisis, which has devastated crop production and made it near impossible for herders to find food for their animals.

ICRC says, In just one year, the number of people in Somalia facing the highest levels of extreme hunger has increased 91 percent. 

With poor rains forecast to persist into 2023, even more Somalis will be unable to access enough food.

Many will be forced to leave their homes to seek humanitarian assistance in urban centers or across the border in Kenya and Ethiopia. 

Already at the end of 2022, 3 million people were internally displaced, and at least 20,000 Somalis had crossed into Kenya.

Year-on-year underfunding of the humanitarian response in Somalia has significantly hindered the ability of humanitarian actors to fully respond to urgent needs. 

The U.N.’s 2022 Humanitarian Response Plan is only 55 percent funded, approximately  $1 billion (USD) short. 

Sectors critical to an effective response to the crisis—particularly health and water, sanitation and hygiene—are funded only 60 and 28 percent respectively.

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