The situation in Somalia has improved since the crisis of 2011, when four million people experienced extreme food insecurity and famine occurred in some regions of the south.
However, the gradual recovery and gains made are being threatened as below average rains, conflict and trade disruptions combined with limited humanitarian access and resources have left thousands of people in need of lifesaving food and nutrition assistance.
Humanitarian Assistance Remains Vital
An estimated 731,000 people remain in “crisis” and “emergency”, according to the latest findings from the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU). People belonging to these households require urgent lifesaving humanitarian assistance to help meet immediate food needs, including critical nutrition and health support for those acutely malnourished, particularly children.
A further 2.3 million additional people are classified as “stressed”, meaning they are struggling to meet their minimum daily food needs. Households belonging to this group remain highly vulnerable to major shocks, such as drought or floods, which could easily push them back into food security crisis.
As a result, lifesaving humanitarian assistance and livelihood support remain vitally important throughout2015 to help food insecure populations meet their immediate food needs, protect livelihoods and build resilience.
Malnutrition Rates Remain High
An estimated 202,600 children under the age of five are acutely malnourished. In some locations in the south, the Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate is 33 percent, considerably more than the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent. The nationwide GAM rate of 12% is close to the emergency threshold.
Insecurity, conflict and high food prices continue to contribute to poor household food security and high malnutrition rates. Any gains made in food security and nutrition could be lost without continued humanitarian assistance as the situation is fragile, with communities recovering from many seasons of failed rains and subsequent drought.
WFP continues to focus on nutrition programmes that support the most vulnerable members of the population, namely women and children. Through supplementary feeding programmes WFP provides specialised nutritional food products to treat and prevent malnutrition. At times of greater need, during lean or dry seasons, a family ration is included as there is a likelihood of other family members also being malnourished.
Social Safety Nets
While continuing to provide targeted emergency or relief assistance when needed, WFP’s 2015 programmes aim to help some 1.9 million people cope more effectively with hardships that might affect themselves and their communities. These are aimed at providing responses that help to enhance the resilience of an individual or community by increasing household income, providing basic services and establishing predictable "safety nets" to address basic needs.
To assist communities and strengthen their resilience to shocks, WFP is funding community asset-building programmes that include the construction of reservoirs, wells and roads that make it easier to reach the markets.
WFP is also expanding its school meals programme, which provides school-going children with a cooked meal each day during the school term. School meals are recognized as one of the most important and dependable safety nets for children and their families and are a powerful incentive for families to continue to invest in education, despite their livelihoods being under stress.