Surviving Somalia’s Current Drought

Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, has long been home to hundreds of thousands of displaced people who, over the past three decades of protracted conflict and recurrent drought, have fled here seeking assistance. Many fled here five years ago during the country’s last major drought that became a famine and resulted in 250,000 deaths, most of them children. Somalia is now again in the throes of another drought that by many accounts is worse than the last. Thankfully, greater government control and a prompt humanitarian response by the government and aid agencies have saved lives, but the scale of displacement is enormous. More than 760,000 Somalis have been displaced across the country since November 2016, 160,000 of them to Mogadishu. Here they are struggling to access assistance and protection in a dangerous and volatile environment.

Mogadishu has long been home to more than 300,000 internally displaced Somalis. The current drought has brought thousands more in search of food, water, and safety.
Eight months pregnant, this young mother arrived in Mogadishu four days ago with her husband and four of her children having walked for 20 days to get here. “First we had drought and our animals died. Then fighting broke out in the village forcing us to flee in all directions.  I lost three of my children in the fighting.”  She and her family are now living in this camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) where they don’t yet even have any shelter to sleep under.
New arrivals construct makeshift shelters using tarps, sticks, and cloth.
Many of the IDPs are young children and have no access to education or child-friendly spaces.
Cholera and other water borne disease are taking a major toll, as indicated by this white board hanging on the wall of the UN’s Drought Operation Coordination Center in Mogadishu.
This newly displaced family from the Bay region has joined a long-established IDP site with hundreds of families displaced from previous droughts and periods of conflict, some arriving as a long as twenty years. What is not yet clear is how many of the new arrivals will ever return to their home areas, especially as droughts become more frequent.