A total of $272 million is needed by the United Nations World Food Programme in a span of five months to bring the malnutrition problem that has taken over drought-hit Somalia under control.
The UNWFP headquarters in Dubai is sending over 47 metric tonnes of high energy biscuits and medical equipment to parts of Somalia, where more than 100 people have literally starved to death.
Stefano Peveri, senior logistics officer at the UNWFP’s UN Humanitarian Response Depot, said that Somalia has 12.5 million habitants, out of which 6.5 million are considered food insecure and 3.5 million people do not have access to the minimum food intake.
Peveri said that crops are not growing anywhere in Somalia and there is a high risk of chronic starvation among the people in the country.
Since March 2017, more than 100,000 drought-displaced people have arrived in the region’s capital, Baidoa, from neighbouring areas, according to the Protection and Return Monitoring Network.
He said: “The situation in Somalia is getting worse and worse because of the drought. The problem is affecting southern and eastern Africa,” Peveri said.
“We are airlifting 47 metric tonnes of high energy biscuits to Mogadishu. Some of the biscuits will stay there and the rest will be distributed to the beneficiaries who are on the move and have registered with.”
Peveri said that the UNWFP has introduced a biometric registration process in these areas to help with accountability for donors, prevent duplicate transactions from people who are receiving the food and keep track on how many people are being assisted.
The UNWFP’s target is to serve 3.5 million people in 2017 just in Somalia.
“Food alone is not enough for people who are at risk of going into chronic malnutrition. You need clean water, you need medical assistance and you need to make sure the nutrition is up to standard, so the body will be able to tolerate the stress of reduced food intake and stress of moving from one place to another,” he said .
The high energy biscuits and supplies are being airlifted because of the limited access humanitarian organisations have in the country. Parts of Southern Somalia is still under the control of militant group Al Shaabab. Roads are also not very accessible.
North eastern Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan are also facing the same problem – malnutrition and disease caused by loss of crops, livestock or due to conflict.
“Yemen is facing the largest food security crisis in the world with almost 7 million people requiring immediate life-saving assistance and at least 462,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition. Conflict has damaged and obstructed water networks and only 45 per cent of the country’s health facilities are functioning,” President of UNICEF, Anthony Lake, said in a statement last week.
“And in north-east Nigeria, violence has left millions displaced and some 4.7 million people in severe food insecurity – at least 450,000 of them are children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.