As famine spreads action urgently needed

As famine spreads action urgently needed


Immediate support vital - As famine spread to three more areas of southern Somalia and threatened to engulf the whole of the country's south, FAO warned that immediate action is needed to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of farmers and pastoralists across the drought-struck Horn of Africa.

FAO's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit for Somalia (FSNAU) and USAID's Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) announced in Nairobi this week that famine has struck three new areas of southern Somalia - Balcad and Cadale districts of Middle Shabelle, the Afgoye corridor IDP settlement, and the Mogadishu IDP community.

All other regions of southern Somalia are in the grip of a humanitarian emergency which has caused thousands of deaths. The emergency is part of a wider drought and conflict-induced crisis in the Horn of Africa that threatens the lives and livelihoods of some 12.4 million people in Somalia, Djibouti, Ethiopia and Kenya and millions more in neighbouring countries.

South Somalia's three new famine areas join the Bakool zone and the Lower Shabelle region, which were declared famine-struck on 20 July.  Famine indicators include death rates exceeding two deaths per 10 000 people per day and acute malnutrition rates in excess of 30 percent. Famine is expected to spread across all regions of the south in the coming four to six weeks and is likely to persist until at least December 2011.