Famine striking Somalia – half of the population facing extreme food shortages  

The World Food Programme (WFP) issued a projected famine threatening the areas of Baidoa and Burhakaba in Somalia in October. Finn Church Aid has been giving cash assistance to the most disadvantaged families in the area. 

THE FOOD SECURITY in Somalia has been severely affected by a long drought. The Horn of Africa has been lacking the usual seasonal rains since the spring of 2020, affecting the livelihoods of the local population. The nomadic populations have been especially severely hit by the food shortages. On September 5th the UN issued a warning of a projected famine threatening the Bay region in Somalia. 

Finn Church Aid is one of the NGOs delivering aid to Somalia. FCA has provided cash assistance to the most disadvantaged families in Baidoa in Somalia.  

The complex situation in Somalia has also been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, making it harder to import grain. As much as 90 per cent of the wheat used in Somalia was imported from Ukraine and Russia before the war. Somalia is also going through a severe inflation, which has increased the price of food in various regions by 30–160 per cent. In addition to this, both local conflicts and terrorist attacks have had a devastating effect on the Somalian population. 

A famine is declared when one-fifth of households in a certain geographic area suffer from extreme food shortages, and more than one-third of the population suffers from severe malnutrition. Famine also increases mortality above the normal daily level. Child mortality in particular is increased by a famine. 

“Famine is the most difficult stage of food insecurity. It literally means that people are in danger of dying. It means that the population doesn’t have enough food to maintain vital bodily functions”, says Ikali Karvinen, Country Director of Finn Church Aid in Somalia. 

Food shortage creates displacement

The current famine threatens almost half of the population of Somalia, 7 million people out of a population of 16 million. The World Food Programme, WFP, estimates that 1.5 million children under the age of 5 currently suffer from acute malnutrition, and more than a million people have been forced to leave their homes due to the crisis. 

“The deteriorating health of children, elderly and other vulnerable populations is the first sign of a famine. Without access to food people will perish if nothing is done,” says Karvinen. 

In 2011 Somalia was hit by a famine, leading to the deaths of 250,000 people. Half of the deceased were children. 

“Even right now, as we speak, children are dying of malnutrition in Somalia.” 

Finn Church Aid has distributed cash assistance in Somalia to the most disadvantaged families. 

“There are many ways to help in this situation. One of them is to raise awareness. It is good to remember that even though the West is facing difficult times, crises like the famine in Somalia are happening all over the world.” 

“Even a small contribution helps in a very tangible way. A family in Somalia, receiving 76 euros in cash assistance, can purchase food for a month. It shows how a relatively small amount of money can bring about quite sizeable changes,” says Karvinen. 

Photos from Baidoa (5/2022).


Somalia Country Director, Finn Church Aid, Mr. Ikali Karvinen, ikali.karvinen[a]kirkonulkomaanapu.fi, WhatsApp: +358 405 098 050

International Communications Specialist, Björn Udd, bjorn.udd[a]kirkonulkomaanapu.fi, tel. +358 50 413 0556