Report: Somalia's Drought

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[Ambitious story. These comments are a first pass at editing of introduction. Will return to editing when initial questions are answered./py]

Less than a month after the reins of Somalia were handed over to him, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed declared the drought in the country a national disaster. [This was in February, yes? Is there a more timely hook for the story? Was drought not considered serious until new president took office?]

As things stand, it’s clear that the country is on the brink of a full-blown famine. [Suggest avoiding “it’s clear;” clear to whom? Let’s get specific: who says it’s on the brink of full-blown famine? Exactly what does that mean? Can you spell it out?]

According to the United Nations, between 2010 and 2012, 258,000 people lost their lives as a result of starvation. [This sounds like a huge number, but is it? For a population of 12 million, it’s about 2 percent. How does that compare to malaria, TB, AIDS? Is there a way to show that starvation is bigger/worse than other causes of death, or starvation in other countries, or historical precedent? In other words, what makes it news now?]

The country located in the Horn of Africa estimated to house a population of about 12 million is going through a difficult phase as about 50% of its citizens need humanitarian aid. With an agricultural land; or land devoted to agriculture of 70.3% and arable land of 1.8% of the total land area, this has not been an indicator of Somali’s struggle for the production of food. [Does half the population *need* humanitarian aid, or *receive* it? Is it possible that far more need aid, but don’t get it? What does “humanitarian aid” mean — are they given grain, trucking in water, etc. Better to be specific. Suggest avoiding characterizing this as “going through a difficult phase,” when it’s being termed a national disaster.]

Current Drought Situation

This has been as a result of little or poor rainfall over the past two seasons in the country. [Exactly what does this mean, and according to whom? Why?]

Livestock and crops have been killed [More than usual? Can this be quantified and attributed?] and some water bodies have dried up. The number of fatalities is limited to only the South-western Bay Region of Somali as it is believed much more are dead in other parts of the country. [Does this mean that estimates of fatalities are based only on this region? How many is that? Who believes there are more dead in other parts of the country, and how many?]


About 363,000 children are facing various levels of malnourishment and need treatment and nourishment. Several diseases have been triggered by the lack of food and clean water including cholera. Also, severe hunger could lead to people finding various escape routes, leading to human rights abuses and crime. Along with Sudan, Yemen, and Northeastern Nigeria, Somalia has been marked as being on the brink of severe hunger and famine.

International Community’s Response

It has been quite clear that the International community’s response to this issue has been quite slow. Many reports suggest that the presence of Al-Shabab in the area has been the main hindrance to the distribution to the access of aid by the people of Somali. However, taking a closer look at the situation, it is clear that not enough funds have been raised to start the food acquisition and distribution process in Somalia. The U.N. humanitarian appealed for 2017 for Somalia is $864 million to provide assistance to 3.9 million people, but with the drought affecting a little over 6 million people, the UN World Food Program recently requested a top up of $26 million. In the meantime, however, a few aid agencies such as Islamic Relief and the International Committee of the Red Cross have been able to access the Southern Zones controlled by Al Shabab. The international community’s response has been overly underwhelming.

The Times Ahead

The newly inaugurated President of Somalia is facing what might possibly be his greatest test as president in just under a month after assuming office. All indicators also give an impression that even after funds are raised, and food aid is eventually provided, Al Shabab would be a barricade to the smooth distribution of these materials.

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