Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Is the Somalia famine hopelessly irreversible? If the catastrophe can be reversed, can the interventions be sustained without aid from external donors?

Those are pretty tough questions to answer. Admittedly, the famine in the Horn is too large a human & nature predicament, with over 11 millions of hungry people affected at its peak some couples of months ago. Somalia seems to be a classic basketcase of the catastrophe, as the problem there is complicated by peace & order challenges.

Below is a reportage on the subject by the UNDP. Note that the UNDP experts have taken the standpoint that the problem can be reversed but with substantial assistance from benevolent sources.

[Philippines, 21 December 2011]
Famine in Somalia can only be reversed with continued assistance
21 November 2011

Water tanks have also been placed along the routes being used by displaced people. (Photo: OCHA/Buhaene)
Nairobi – Increased humanitarian assistance to Somalia has had a significant impact in the famine‐affected parts, bringing the three southern regions of Bay, Bakool and Lower Shabelle out of famine.
However, according to the latest data compiled by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and Famine Early Warning System in southern Somalia, famine persists in parts of the Middle Shabelle region and in the areas hosting internally displaced persons in the capital Mogadishu and along the Afgooye corridor, northwest of the city.
Malnutrition and mortality rates in many parts of southern Somalia continue to be the highest in the world.
“Any improvements can only be sustained if the current level of humanitarian assistance continues,” said Mark Bowden, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, who also serves as the UN Development Programme’s Resident Representative.
“If humanitarian activities are interrupted or reduced in southern Somalia, many areas will fall back into famine. It is only thanks to the generosity of donors that we have been able to save tens of thousands of lives in the past three months. We need this support to continue or the price we pay will be the loss of thousands of lives.”
The UN and other partners are working to increase access to food, markets and health services. UNDP has been working in Mogadishu and in some of the famine-affected districts building shallow wells, boreholes and water pumps, rehabilitating essential agricultural infrastructure, and helping to create short term jobs which allow households to improve access to food.
Somalia continues to face the largest humanitarian crisis in the world with over half of its population in urgent need of assistance.
Three million out of the four million people in crisis are in southern Somalia, where access to the population in need remains a major challenge.

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