Somalia Food Insecurity Crisis - Famine in Somalia - CARE

Somalia Food Insecurity Crisis

Two girls walk with a donkey to gather water from a shallow well outside of their town. The donkey has two yellow water jugs tied to its side with rope.

CARE / Georgina Goodwin

CARE / Georgina Goodwin


5.9 million people require immediate humanitarian assistance due to the combined impact of conflict, unpredictable climatic shocks, including drought, flooding, and shocks such as desert locust crop damage and the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the Crisis in Somalia

Somalia is currently facing triple shocks of COVID-19, desert locust infestation and the effect of the 2019-2020 floods including the Gati cyclone experienced in Bari-Puntland.

The country has been very unfortunate to suffer from a combination of crises one after the other. As the country was reeling from the 2019-2020 floods that decimated most crops and pasture, it was faced with the COVID-19 pandemic which greatly reduced remittances due to the global lockdowns, most families in Somalia/Somaliland rely on remittances from relatives working in other countries.

As if this was not enough, the country suffered from the desert locust infestation which destroyed the few crops and pasture that had survived the floods and now due to below average rainfall, at least 34 districts are facing alarming water shortages with reports of pre-drought conditions in some places. Over 116,000 Somalis were displaced by water shortages between October 2020 and March 2021. The worst-affected areas are in Somaliland, Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, and Jubaland. Communities in Somalia and Somaliland have told us that they fear a repeat of the 2017 severe drought which left a quarter of a million people dead.

Somalia was already facing a fragile food security situation due to previous drought and famine.

The food crisis in Somalia is the result of rapid shifts from drought to flooding, as well as violence and conflict. Consecutive years of poor rains and harvests have decimated crops across Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Families are dying not only from starvation, but also from diseases such as cholera and measles because they lack clean water and sanitation. More than half of the population live below the poverty line, making them even more vulnerable to climate shifts.

In Somalia, approximately 840,000 children under the age of five are likely to be acutely malnourished, including nearly 143,000 who are likely to be severely malnourished through December 2021.

Famine was last declared in Somalia six years ago, and more than 260,000 people died – more than half of them children. Nearly half of the deaths occurred before the famine was even declared.

Over 116,000 Somalis were displaced by water shortages between Oct 2020 and March 2021

Approximately 1.2MM children under the age of five are likely to be acutely malnourished



people require immediate humanitarian assistance.

How to Help Somalia: What CARE is Doing

Recent CARE assessments have shown a gendered impact of the drought conditions as well as of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prevailing drought and armed conflict in 2021 have exacerbated displacement of women and girls in Somalia, further driving them into deprivation, poverty, and helplessness.

CARE Somalia has reached more than 708,400 people through food security, nutrition, health, WASH, protection, and education services. Together with the Ministry of Health, it is also scaling up information to the public on how to prevent acute watery diarrhea through using water from safe sources, treatment of water, keeping good hygiene and clean surroundings. CARE has rehabilitated five water points, providing 10,000 individuals access to water, and distributed water purification tabs in regions hardest hit by recent drought and internal displacements.

CARE has been providing emergency relief and lifesaving assistance to the Somali people since 1981. Our main program activities have included projects in water and sanitation, sustainable pastoralist activities, civil society and media development, small-scale enterprise development, primary school education, teacher training, adult literacy, and vocational training. We work in partnership with Somali and international aid agencies, civil society leaders, and local authorities.

*Last updated October 2021