A new study commissioned by the government of Somalia and UN agencies has returned disturbing statistics: 135 people may die from drought in the Horn of Africa country everyday this year as a result of drought.
The study released March 19 also notes that at least 43,000 people died due to drought in Somalia in 2022. The study said 34,000 people could die in June alone.
It is the first official death toll from the drought in the Horn of Africa. Children are thought to be the most affected, with the study noting that 50% of the fatalities are children under five. The study further reveals that between 18,000-34,000 more deaths are expected in the first six months of this year.
Deaths from famine are common in Somalia, as over a quarter million people died of famine in the country in 2011.
The country has entered the sixth consecutive wet season with no rain in March, making the current projections hardly surprising. Experts say Somalia is facing a climatic event not seen in the past four decades, with the Africa State of Climate 2021 report describing it as “a climate-led crisis.”
The current drought has surpassed those of 2010-2011 and 2016-2017 in terms of duration and severity, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).
The UN body says nearly half of the country’s population-some 7.6 million people, now need humanitarian assistance.
The current drought has been compounded by escalating food prices caused by the war in Ukraine, political instability, ethnic tensions as well as rising insecurity in the country.
“We are racing against time to prevent deaths and save lives that are avoidable,” said World Health Organization (WHO) representative Dr Mamunur Rahman Malik.
He added that the “cost of our inaction” would mean children, women and vulnerable people would die as “we hopelessly, helplessly witness the tragedy unfold”.
While about $2.6 bn are required to deal with the drought, the UN says only 15% of the amount has been raised.