News / Africa

Study: Somalia Famine Claimed Nearly 260,000 Lives

Internally displaced Somali women stand in a queue waiting for relief food to be served in Hodan district south of capital Mogadishu September 5, 2011.
Internally displaced Somali women stand in a queue waiting for relief food to be served in Hodan district south of capital Mogadishu September 5, 2011.
Gabe Joselow
A new study commissioned by the United Nations estimates 258,000 people died in Somalia as a result of food insecurity during a period of famine.

The joint report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the U.S.-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network outlines the grim statistics from a period of food insecurity from October 2010 to April of last year.

According to the study, 133,000 children under the age of five died as a direct result of a lack of food, or because they were made too weak to fight off disease.

In the Lower Shabelle region of southern Somalia, at the heart of the famine, an estimated 18 percent of the child population died.

At the height of the emergency, 30,000 people were dying each month.

U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Philippe Lazzarini, speaking to reporters from Mogadishu Thursday, called the figures “shocking” and said more could have been done to prevent the worst of it.
Somalia food insecurity, 2010 - 2012Somalia food insecurity, 2010 - 2012
x
Somalia food insecurity, 2010 - 2012
Somalia food insecurity, 2010 - 2012


"After the famine was declared over in February 2012, the humanitarian community took a hard look at the events, we learned lessons, also we warned repeatedly from August 2010 that the food crisis was deepening, the aid operation and funding response was too slow," he explained.

The famine, declared in July 2011, was the result of two successive failed rainy seasons, resulting in poor harvests and the death of livestock.

The hardest-hit areas, in southern and central Somalia, were also under the control of the al-Shabab militant group, which had banned access to humanitarian agencies, making the crisis worse.

Lazzarini said after the famine declaration, humanitarian agencies were able to mobilize into previously inaccessible places.

He said the current aid and development strategy should focus on building the long-term resilience of Somali communities, so they can better withstand future shocks.

"We need to proactively invest in Somali people and communities now, to break the cycle of crisis and response," said  Lazzarini.

The U.N. says about 2.7 million people are still in need of assistance in Somalia.

Al-Shabab continues to hold a grip on rural areas of southern and central Somalia, though they have been driven out of the major cities.

The new government of Somalia, formed last year after two decades of civil war, struggles to provide services in areas outside of the capital.

You May Like

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs