Somalia is facing the worst funding constraints seen in more than half a decade, as the country confronts heightened conflict, increased displacement as well as escalating food insecurity due to unreliable rainfall patterns and locust outbreaks. Without adequate funding for humanitarian organizations, those in need, especially the 2.9 million people who are displaced, cannot access crucial services such as food, education, water, sanitation, health, protection, and shelter services. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) calls on the international community to support the Somali population and commit to fulfilling the unmet requirements of the Somalia Humanitarian Response Plan which stands at only 30% funded.
The UK, for example, has been an important donor for humanitarian response in Somalia. It is currently the second-largest donor, however, last year, the UK halved its contribution to Somalia, at a time when the effects of Covid-19 devastated the country. Now, is a need for support from the international community to scale up life-saving work to provide resources and services needed in Somalia.
Abdirizak Ahmed, IRC Somalia acting Country Director said, “Almost half of the 12.3 million Somali population risk losing access to life-saving and life-sustaining services in the last half of 2021 due to lack of funding. Nearly half of the 5.9 million people in need of humanitarian assistance are displaced from their homes and since January alone, more than half a million people have fled their homes, with 66% fleeing insecurity and election-related violence.”
“A global hunger crisis – fuelled by conflict, economic turbulence, and climate-related shocks – has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and Somalia is no different. Drought and flooding in more than two-thirds of the country, political tensions, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the worst desert locust infestation in years have worsened food insecurity. At the same time, severe underfunding has led to a 25% decrease in the number of people benefitting from food assistance plans. Donor funding for acute malnutrition is inadequate – and declining. G7 efforts and global commitments to address hunger are not being met, either on a global scale or more specifically in the case of Somalia. Without additional funding in the last half of 2021, one million people with acute food needs will miss out on food assistance. The IRC urges all parties to increase the food security, resilience, choice, and dignity of the most vulnerable people through the distribution of humanitarian cash transfers. With drought and reduced access to resources, the risk of gender-based violence has also increased. Strategies to prevent famine and build long-term food security in fragile and conflict-affected states must center on the resilience and leadership of women and girls.”
The IRC has been working with local authorities to improve access to water, sanitation, and hygiene services in all our programming sites, scaling up our programming to support families with healthcare for malnourished children and providing unconditional cash transfers to help people quickly get the support they need. Humanitarian cash transfers are a proven effective means of increasing food security and supporting basic needs. Overwhelming evidence from multiple regions of the world shows that people who receive humanitarian cash spend a large proportion on food, and that cash can increase the diversity of foods consumed as compared to in-kind food assistance. The IRC has also been rehabilitating boreholes and water sources as well as mobile health services to reach deeper into hard-hit areas and ensuring our clients have the right information to protect themselves from COVID-19.
The IRC began working in Somalia in 1981 in the aftermath of the Somalia-Ethiopia conflict. Over the years operations faced several interruptions due to insecurity and civil unrest but have been operating continuously since 2007.