News / Africa

Famine Continues to Spread in Southern Somalia

Bay region, country’s breadbasket, is sixth to be hit

Somali children wait for relief food
Somali children wait for relief food
Kim Lewis

This week the Food and Agriculture Organization said the famine in southern Somalia will get worse.

“At the moment we can say with certainty that about three quarters of a million people are currently facing famine conditions, which means they just cannot meet their food needs,” said Granne Moloney, the technical advisor for the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit in Nairobi.

Moloney said people in southern Somalia have access to only very small amounts of food, about 40% of what is needed to have a healthy life.

“The highest rate of malnutrition today has been reported in Bay region, which is the newest region to go into famine,” said Moloney.

She said 58% of the population there is facing malnutrition -- “an astronomical figure.”

Moloney explained that 15% of a population facing malnutrition is considered an emergency, “so we’re nearly at four times of what is considered the emergency level of malnutrition in the Bay region and nearly twice the level of what is considered a famine.”

She said people’s ability to get food will continue to be “massively constrained” until the next harvest, which is in January.

But she said “even if we have an average harvest , which is predicted because the next rainfall is predicted to be average, we still don’t think that will have a significant impact on the crisis because it’s “a secondary harvest and it only produces about 35% of the annual cereal.”

Moloney said the need for food aid will continue for another twelve months until the next major harvest, in August 2012.

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