Scarred by Islamist terrorism & civil war, Somalia is failing to feed 6.7mn citizens

Somalia has been gripped by a perpetual cycle of drought, famine, and violence for decades, but 2017 could mark a tipping point in the nation’s fortunes, as the twin threats of climate change and an Islamist insurgency threaten an impending cataclysm.

At the start of 2017, Somalia required $1.5 billion to reach 5.5 million people at risk of famine. The total number of people in Somalia in need of humanitarian assistance rose by 500,000 between 2016 and 2017, from 6.2 million to 6.7 million, according to figures from the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit.

At present, 3.2 million people face “Crisis and Emergency” levels of food insecurity as a result of drought, internal displacement through conflict, and a sustained bombing campaign by Al-Shabaab militants. On a global scale, one in every 110 people is currently displaced by violence, famine, or persecution, the worst such displacement in human history, including both World Wars.

In addition, Somalia is also facing its worst outbreak of cholera in five years as a direct result of the forced movement of people and a subsequent lack of adequate hygiene and water facilities.

So far in 2017, there have been 38,000 cases and approximately 683 deaths from cholera. Somalia is also facing a measles outbreak which has affected over 7,000 people this year, 65 percent of whom are under the age of five.

These figures were expected to be compounded by the rainy season and projected flooding in several regions of the country. However, thus far, the rains have underperformed, compared with neighbors Ethiopia and Sudan, who have both experienced flooding.

One million people have already fled to neighboring Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, and even Yemen, which is facing its own famine crisis, Oxfam reports.

Persistent and recurring cycles of violence have prevented Somalia from establishing and maintaining any kind of coherent and functioning transport, agricultural, and sanitation infrastructure.

Al-Shabaab militants have carried out 71 attacks that have claimed the lives of 784 people so far in 2017. The deadliest twin attacks took place on October 14 and claimed over 300 lives marking the worst terrorist bomb attack in Somali history.

For context, there were a total of 395 IED attacks in Somalia throughout 2016 which killed 723 and wounded over 1,100, which marked a 110 percent increase from 2015. While the number of attacks decreased, the overall intensity of the explosives used and the destructive consequences greatly increased, further destabilizing an already precarious security situation and exacerbating the country’s multiple humanitarian crises.