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By Ashvin Ramasamy

Clear to the world, the post 2017 drought period has left a major imprint on millions of lives and is currently afflicting the state of food security in Somalia. The facts speak for themselves. Last year about 1.2 million children were estimated to suffer from acute malnourishment while approximately 80,000 children had to stop attending school. The drought was the leading cause of cholera, malnutrition and food scarcity. With about 6 million people struggling for humanitarian aid, the problem is compounded by ongoing conflict.

Latest market outputs, rainfall forecasts and recovery programmes do present encouraging news for the many dependent on crop production. However, a considerable amount of people will have to surmount worsening conditions in 2018. This is due to the protracted drought period of 2016 to 2017, in which many destitute herders lost their cattle but have not bounced back. Worse are those that endured natural hazards along with the threat of insurgent groups — largely occupying the southern and central areas of the county. Many have faced abuse, evictions and violence at the hands non-state armed clans. The flooding that occured in spring this year also caused important losses in farming output. In addition, the flood of April and May 2018 led to large-scale and protracted displacement due to a combination of conflict and natural hazards.

Cereal production hubs of Somalia indicate disparate projections for the current year, further exacerbating the heightened demand for food supply. By and large, southern Somalia can expect substantial cereal output this month and the next, assisted by one of the wettest seasons (2018 Gu) of rainfall in two decades. The end of harvest cycles of the 2018 season shows that cereal output in tonnage is nearly 20 percent higher from the 1995 to 2017. Promising as this season may be southern area, northwest Somalia faces hardship for the year to come. Come November, estimated harvest levels will likely range at 19,000 tonnes, representing almost 60 percent less for the 2010 to 2017 period. The 2016-2017 drought impact will cost up to $60 million in missed crop production. All things considered, losses will not be as extensive; the real issue focuses on the poor communities in the northwest area that have been hoping for a strong recovery. Many currently have little to no food stocks due to the drastic effects of the past two years’ drought on agricultural production.

To make matters worse, internally displaced persons (IDPs) face even greater challenges. IDPs are known to experience high poverty than existing country level rates even before the start of a conflict. Due to their circumstances many cannot participate in formal employment and must resort to the undependable informal sector. Moreover, Somalia has had to cope with unfavourable economic conditions for the past few decades. The low skill levels of IDPs puts them at a particular disadvantage in the labour market. Estimates earlier this year puts the figure at 2.6 million IDPs in Somalia.

Back in 2016, a notable breakthrough was made in collective action to aid IDPs across Somalia — and other fragile states as well. During the World Humanitarian Summit 2016, leaders dubbed the effort “A New Way of Working”, with overarching aim to satisfy humanitarian needs as well as lessening the demand for humanitarian assistance over time. At the behest of the humanitarian response plan of 2018, a joint international effort delivered exactly on that. The primary objective set in motion action to erase the division between emergency relief and humanitarian response. A strategy was also rolled out for utilizing resources efficiently, work with strategic partners and create contingency plans tailored for future hardships. Fighting food insecurity and rampant malnutrition are not the only underlying goals of the new practice. Agencies involved carry the burden to deliver on the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, specifically the commitment to “leave no one behind.” Indeed, this approach reflects strongly the mission of the jointly formed response plan. That is to engage in new partnerships, namely the private sector, multilateral banks and local NGOs to create new resources and devise strategic methods for utilizing existing resources efficiently. Ultimately, year after year, the agencies will ramp up their efforts for the most vulnerable people, namely IDPs and refugees of Somalia. Some of the targets of collective outcomes include sustainable solutions (i.e., “Durable Solutions”) for 100,000 displaced households and decreasing the national rate of acute food
insecurity by 84 percent together with the Global Acute Malnutrition rate dropped by 5 percent below the emergency threshold — both to be achieved by 2022.

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