Dr.Omar Salad-(Doc) First I like to distinguish the connotation of the phrase political drought from A-Shabab’s argument that the current famine is politically motivated.
Article Keydmedia Online

Here by political drought I mean political barren situation that totally failed to resolve the twenty-year-old endless conflict, mayhem, misery, social fragmentation and reconstruct our fallen state that in turn have dried up the Somali people’s actual and potential human and material wealth and capability and eventually resulted in the current abject and widespread poverty in our country in general and unprecedented rampant catastrophic famine situation decimating our people today in particular. 

In this piece of writing, I examine and comment on the various aspects of the political drought which has been afflicting our country for so long and has eventually caused the grinding and widespread poverty in general and the current catastrophic runaway famine and I conclude with some recommendations.

Unpreparedness for the Famine

It seems that the TFG,  UN, INGOs and governments around the world were caught unawares by the harrowing and heart-rending scenes and stories of the stream of famine stricken hundreds of thousands of skeleton and dying children, women and elderly people from Somalia to the Dadaab and Dolow Addo camps respectively in Kenya and Ethiopia whose many of their family members and relatives could not make the long journey inside Somalia or perished on the way or the similarly famished other hundreds of thousands flocking into to Mogadishu from adjacent regions. The UN could have predicted and intervened earlier before the situation went out of hand as it is today. Let alone to forecast this catastrophic famine and act in time,  even the permanent 2.65 million figure of people in dire humanitarian situation in Somalia was cut back 2 million people in 2011’  for lack of funding perhaps due to loss of interest in Somalia or aid fatigue by the donors.  
For most Somalis and those who have been closely observing the twenty-year-old Somali tragedy including the UN, this runaway famine should have not been a surprise as they were living in or following the steady build-up of the adverse conditions which have been giving rise to the grinding and widespread poverty in Somalia over these years in general and this rampant famine in particular.  In late June 2011, as an early warning I told a western official that ‘most Somali population is in imminent danger to perish for famine unless the world quickly intervenes’ but although he was not so convinced of my warning he promised that he would pass the message to those in positions of power. After two weeks the world was caught in surprise by the floods of famished hundreds of thousands to Mogadishu and to Dadab and Dolow Addo camps in the Kenyan and Ethiopian border regions. The TFG has not predicted this catastrophic situation either. It was too late and that is why unknown many thousands of lives are thought to have perished already inside Somalia.
Obstructed and Dwindling aid, Conflict and Drought

In the last couple of years humanitarian aid was either obstructed by A-Shabab in parts of central regions and entire southern regions in 2010 and 2011 or it has been dwindling. For example, international humanitarian budget allocation for Somalia was in 2009 US$900 million  and for 2010 it was US$689,008,615 with ‘a reduction in the number of projects and a 19% reduction in requirements compared to 2009.’    A Mid-year Review of the UN CAP Somalia 2010 Report  adds that ‘The revised Consolidated Appeal for Somalia seeks US$596.1 million to address the most urgent humanitarian needs in Somalia in those areas that agencies and their partners can reach.  This figure is a 13.5% reduction from the original requirement of $689 million.  As of June 25, US$338.8 million (56%) of funding had been recorded against revised requirements, leaving unmet requirements of US$262.3 million,’ and for 2011 it was US$529,520,029 less than 11% of financial requirements compared to 2010.’  
The economy was steadily being destroyed and devastated by multiple factors such as Somali insurgents, authorities, external military interventions and drought. At the end of 2009 the UN described a gloomy situation unfolding in this way ‘protracted conflict, economic collapse, and drought conditions continued to drive the humanitarian crisis in Somalia in 2009 . . . resulting in increased population displacement, greater urban vulnerability and widespread acute malnutrition’ and ‘during the same period, internal displacement also increased by 16%.’  
Food and Price hyperinflation and Reduced Remittances
The economic plight and current consequential lethal famine was also partly caused by the unprecedented monetary hyperinflation and skyrocketing of food prices afflicting the Somali economy and ruining the living standards of the Somali population in recent years.   For instance, S.Sh. 13,000 exchanged US$1 in 2006 while today S.Sh. 35,000 buys US$1.
Food prices have been affected by similar hyperinflation which also began during the occupation of the Ethiopian military and continued to rise due to the economic collapse caused by such occupation in Mogadishu and adjacent regions.  In addition, the remittances from the Diaspora, normally that was over $1 billion per year, are down by 25% due to the global recession.’  
In Somalia food prices rose up at record levels between ‘100 - 160% in 2007 and 130–190% in 2008. Today price hyperinflation stands 450–780% above the long-term trend while the price of basic items such as eatable oil and sugar soared significantly and sorghum and maize prices increased by 180% and 107 respectively  in Mogadishu in 2011.– the highest in all countries in 2011.
On 20 July 2011 the UN has awakened to the catastrophic situation and Mr. Mark Bowden the Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia declared southern  regions, namely,  Bakool and Lower Shabelle as famine struck areas and that across the  country, nearly half of the Somali population – 3.7 million people – are now in crisis, of whom an estimated 2.8 million people are in the south.  Since then the UN extended the famine stricken regions to another six, namely Gedo,  Hiran,  Lower Middle, Middle Shabelle, Bay, Mogadishu, Afgoi corridor of IDPs communityand Bakool stating that ‘in total 4 million people in are in crisis in Somalia, with 750,000 people are at risk of death.’  On 17 August 2011, British secretary of Department International Development stated that ‘400,000 children were at risk of death’ and ‘three-quarters of a million people are facing death by starvation in Somalia’ ‘tens of thousands of people have already died, over half of whom children.’  ‘During July and August, FSNAU conducted 34 representative nutrition and mortality surveys across southern Somalia, including 30 among local populations and four among internally displaced populations. Results from 24 surveys are available. Based on the most recent data available for each region, the average GAM prevalence was 36.4 percent and the average severe acute malnutrition (SAM) prevalence was 15.8 percent. The highest recorded level of acute malnutrition is in Bay, where the GAM prevalence is 58.3 percent. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has verified these findings’.
WHO has added that ‘more than 4,272 cases of acute watery diarrhoea and cholera have been reported in Mogadishu' twitter_embed_code='' gallery="{gallery}" gallery_embed_code='


Article 21 May 2021 10:14

I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.