Somalia and the United Nations are appealing for $2.6 billion to aid millions of Somalis facing hunger as the country remains gripped by a record-setting drought. Somalia has been struggling against famine-like conditions that aid groups say are forcing thousands of people to flee from the countryside into cities seeking help.
In a small hut made of sticks and covered in old rugs in the Haji-Mursal camp for internally displaced people, Habibo Madey is preparing a dinner of porridge for her six children.
Her neighbor gave her the food as she’s not yet on the ration list for the camp, a sprawling pop-up village of makeshift shelters housing hundreds on the outskirts of Mogadishu.
Madey fled her village in southwest Somalia in late December because of what she says is the worst drought she has ever seen.
"I have never experienced such a situation since I was born. All our livestock died one after another and we had nothing to depend on," she said. "They moved in groups from one town to another until they arrived at this camp in Mogadishu. I don’t know if we will ever recover from this."
Aid groups say thousands like Madey have for months been streaming into camps near Somalia’s cities.
The U.N. says the drought has displaced 1.4 million people and killed at least 3.5 million livestock.
The U.N. on Wednesday appealed for $2.6 billion in aid for Somalia, saying eight million people — nearly half the population — are facing hunger.
If not addressed, the U.N. says the famine that Somalia narrowly averted last year could become a reality by April.
Ahmed Omar, associate director of aid group World Vision Somalia, says donors covered just two thirds of their appeal last year and he fears competing needs could impact donor support just as poor weather is predicted.
"Somalia is facing other global needs that compete for the support of donors," he said. "There is an emergence of new global humanitarian needs that need the attention of the donors, he says, like the humanitarian crisis caused by the Ukraine war, clashes in Ethiopia, as well as the earthquake disaster in Turkey."
The Horn of Africa, especially Somalia, is experiencing the most severe drought in at least four decades as five consecutive rainy seasons have failed.
Omar says World Vision is leading the Somalia Resilience Program, an umbrella group of aid agencies that aim to build community resilience against the effects of climate change.
Ahmed Hadi, the founder of Somali Civic House, a Mogadishu-based governance think tank, says, since Somalia has had no strong government for 30 years, there is no central planning agency. He says there is also fighting in the country al-Shabab militants are a thorn in people's businesses and other infrastructure.
The U.N. says even though Somalia has not yet reached the technical famine threshold, it is experiencing higher than normal deaths, which will continue unless aid is scaled up.
The last famine to ravage the Horn of Africa nation like this came in 2011, when more than a quarter-million people died.