Funding Shortfall Could Lead to Food Rations Cut for 3mln People in Somali region

ADDIS ABABA – At least 3 million people in Ethiopia’s Somali region will face reduced food rations due to funding shortfall, warn the UN World Food Program and the region on Monday.

The warning came after President of Somali Regional State Mustafa Omer and UN World Food Country Director, Steven Were Omamo met on Monday to discuss the humanitarian crisis in the region.

In a joint statement after the meeting, the two officials said the crisis is linked to the unfolding drought and its devastating impacts on local communities and internally displaced populations in the Eastern region of Ethiopia.

Up to 3.3 million people are likely to require food assistance in the next three months, according to the Somali Region Drought Response Plan December 2021.

About 2.2 million people are also facing water shortages and need urgent water trucking while an estimated 173,000 children under 5 years of age and pregnant and lactating women are malnourished.

The response document also shows that 62,000 livestock have died, signalling growing stresses and vulnerability to human populations.

These challenges are exacerbating longer-term difficulties linked to COVID-19, inflation, desert locust invasions, poor infrastructure, and drought, according to the joint statement.

“The Somali Regional State government has provided 200 million Ethiopian Birr for a range of activities including water trucking and animal feed,” said President Mustafa.

“This drought comes at a very unfortunate moment for my region — just as we are beginning to reap the fruits of peace and stability,” he said. “If we fail to respond quickly and fully, the livelihoods of entire communities will be wiped out. We must not let this happen.”

Dr. Omamo has applauded the region’s investment, and said the UN agency “is committed to the continued partnership in the region”.

“However, due to lack of funding the humanitarian needs of families are severely under threat and will deteriorate further if the international community does not step in with the necessary funding immediately,” he said.

WFP needs US$119 million to deliver assistance to 3 million people in Somali region over the next six months.

Across the entire Ethiopia, the UN agency said it has an unprecedented funding gap of US$579 million to save and change the lives of 12 million people over the next six months.

The World Food Program has already been forced to cut rations for cereals by 10 percent for 2.4 million people in the Somali region, according to the joint statement.

“If WFP does not receive additional funding immediately, it shall be forced to continue with these cuts for more than 3 million people who require support in the coming months and the nutrition and food security of these already vulnerable communities will worsen,” it says.

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