Horn of Africa Complex Emergency Fact Sheet #10

September 21, 2017

  • Risk of Famine-level food insecurity likely to persist through December among vulnerable populations in Somalia.
  • UN requests $106 million in additional humanitarian funding to benefit 1.9 million people in Kenya.
  • USG provides an additional $69.2 million to support the humanitarian response for Somalia.

Post-gu seasonal assessments indicate that while Famine—IPC 5—levels of acute food insecurity have been averted in Somalia, the risk of Famine persists through December for internally displaced persons (IDPs) and other vulnerable populations in the worst-affected areas of Somalia.4 In addition, an estimated 3.1 million people are expected to face Crisis—IPC 3—or Emergency—IPC 4—levels of acute food insecurity through December, with an estimated 6.2 million people likely to require humanitarian assistance, according to the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) and Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit–Somalia (FSNAU).

On September 21, USAID Administrator Mark Green announced nearly $69.2 million in new U.S. Government (USG) funding to support critical relief interventions in Somalia and for Somali refugees. In total, in FY 2017 the USG has contributed $462 million to support vulnerable populations in Somalia and Somali refugees in neighboring countries.

The UN released a revised flash appeal for Kenya on September 7 calling for approximately $106 million in additional humanitarian funding for September to December, bringing the total requested funding for 2017 to $271.7 million. The revised flash appeal targets 1.9 million of the 5.6 million people expected to require assistance between September and December.

Numbers At A Glance

6.2 million

People in Somalia Experiencing Acute Food Insecurity

8.5 million

People in Ethiopia Experiencing Acute Food Insecurity

3.4 million

People in Kenya Experiencing Acute Food Insecurity

3.1 million

People in Somalia Experiencing Crisis or Emergency Levels of Acute Food Insecurity


Somali Refugees in Neighboring Countries

Humanitarian Funding

For the Horn of Africa Response in FY 2016-2017

USAID/OFDA $370,743,132
USAID/FFP $1,122,176,849
State/PRM $382,886,724
Total $1,875,806,705

On August 31, FEWS NET and FSNAU released the post-gu seasonal assessment findings, which estimated that 3.1 million people in Somalia will likely face Crisis or Emergency levels of acute food insecurity through December. The projected acutely food-insecure population represents a slight decrease from the previous estimate of 3.2 million people experiencing Crisis or Emergency levels of acute food insecurity, primarily due to sustained humanitarian assistance and localized positive gu rainfall in recent months. Despite the moderate decline in the figures, FEWS NET and FSNAU report that—due to overall poor gu rains and resultant below-average gu cereal yields—the population specifically facing Emergency-level acute food insecurity has increased from 700,000 to more than 800,000 people since April, and that the risk of Famine levels of acute food insecurity will likely persist through December among IDPs and other vulnerable populations in the worst-affected areas of the country. An additional nearly 3.1 million people in Somalia are expected to experience Stressed—IPC 2—levels of food insecurity between August and December. Overall, an estimated 6.2 million people in Somalia will likely require humanitarian assistance between August and December, a reduction of approximately 500,000 people compared to previous projections from April–August of 6.7 million people in need of assistance.

The post-gu seasonal assessment identified deteriorating nutrition conditions across Somalia, with the countrywide median global acute malnutrition (GAM) rate increasing from 14.5 percent in the 2016 post-gu seasonal assessment to 17.4 percent in 2017. In addition, extremely critical levels of GAM—falling above the UN World Health Organization (WHO) 15 percent emergency threshold—were recorded in two-thirds of the surveyed groups, including in Bay Region, with approximately 30 percent, and Galgaduud Region, with 33 percent. Overall, results from the assessment indicated that an estimated 388,000 children younger than five years of age are experiencing acute malnutrition, of whom 87,000 are severely malnourished and face an increased risk of morbidity and death. Health actors attribute deteriorating nutrition conditions to limited health care services, chronic lack of dietary diversity, and inadequate child care practices.

FEWS NET and FSNAU project average to below-average rainfall during the October-to-December deyr rains across most of Somalia, as well as warmer-than-normal temperatures during the same period, which will likely lead to faster depletion of pasture and water sources with a resultant negative impact on crop development.

A late July–early August humanitarian interagency assessment identified approximately 168,000 IDPs residing in urban and semi-urban areas of Galgaduud, of whom 78 percent are conflict- and drought-affected persons displaced between November 2016 and July 2017 and 22 percent are protracted IDPs. An estimated 80 percent of the IDPs are sheltering in the more than 50 new IDP settlements established in Galgaduud since November 2016. The majority of the IDPs are women, children, and older people, as below-average gu rains in June and July prompted nearly 35,000 pastoralists to migrate from Galgaduud to other regions in search of pasture and water, separating households and driving relocation of remaining family members to IDP settlements. The assessment found a lack of sanitation facilities and water storage capacity in the recently established IDP settlements and noted that IDPs face increased risks of gender-based violence (GBV), as women must venture outside the settlements to unlit areas to defecate and fetch firewood. Assessment recommendations included establishing health and nutrition centers in the new settlements and providing emergency relief commodities, such as mosquito nets, and portable solar lights. USAID/OFDA continues to support several partners to provide agriculture, health, nutrition, protection, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) assistance to conflict- and drought-affected populations in Galgaduud.

Relief actors estimate that 900,000 people in Somalia have been internally displaced by drought between November 2016 and August 2017, with 810,000 people displaced since the beginning of 2017; additionally, conflict has resulted in the displacement of 155,000 people in 2017, according to the UN. Relief actors report challenges in assisting drought-affected populations, particularly those in large urban centers and rural areas under al-Shabaab control, according to a Refugees International report released in August. The Shelter Cluster—the coordinating body for humanitarian shelter activities, comprising UN agencies, NGOs, and other stakeholders—estimates that 770,000 drought-affected people were in need of shelter and relief commodities across the country, with the majority in or near Bay’s Baidoa town and the capital city of Mogadishu, as of July. Shelter partners have appealed for $74 million to meet the shelter and relief commodity needs of displaced populations in 2017; as of mid-September, donors had contributed approximately $10 million, or 14 percent of requirements.

Between January and August, non-state actors abducted 25 humanitarian workers in Somalia, the UN reports. The UN notes that the number of humanitarian workers abducted by non-state actors for ransom is increasing, with the majority of recent abductees seized along main access roads. Relief agencies continue to advocate with authorities to secure main supply routes and appeal to all parties to the conflict to protect humanitarian access. In central and southern Somalia, civilians also face heightened risk of attacks on main access routes due to road blocks and illegal checkpoints imposed by non-state actors.

On August 30, the UN Security Council (UNSC) extended the mandate of the African Union (AU) Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) through May 2018. As part of the gradual transition of responsibilities to Federal Government of Somalia security forces, the resolution authorized a 500-person reduction in AMISOM forces—from 22,100 to 21,600 troops—by December 2017 with expectations for an additional 1,000-person reduction by October 2018. The UNSC noted the possibility of accelerating AMISOM troop reductions if security conditions improve.

The USG announced additional funding of $69.2 million to support the humanitarian response for Somalia, including nearly $19.5 million from USAID/FFP for food vouchers and cash transfers for food; nearly $44 million from USAID/OFDA for multi-sector lifesaving interventions; and approximately $6 million from State/PRM to support Somali refugees in other Horn of Africa countries. To date in FY 2017, the USG has provided $462 million in humanitarian assistance for Somalia, as well as Somali refugees in neighboring countries.

From August 30–31, USAID Administrator Mark Green traveled to Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa, as well as to Jijiga town in drought-affected Somali Region, to observe USAID-funded activities addressing humanitarian and development challenges in the country. During the visit, Administrator Green met with Government of Ethiopia (GoE) authorities, including Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn, as well as representatives from the AU and donor communities, regarding USAID-supported initiatives in the region. Administrator Green also announced an additional $91 million in USAID humanitarian assistance for the emergency response in Ethiopia.

The fifth round of emergency food distributions provided by USAID/FFP partner WFP are ongoing in Somali Region, benefitting 3.3 million people, or 60 percent of the region’s population, including 200,000 conflict- and drought-affected IDPs. WFP is also initiating a three-month blanket supplementary feeding program for the prevention and management of moderate acute malnutrition for approximately 400,000 children younger than five years of age and pregnant and lactating women in 45 Somali districts worst affected by malnutrition.

The UN Central Emergency Response Fund—a pooled humanitarian fund established and managed by the UN to support sudden-onset and underfunded emergencies—and the Government of Denmark recently contributed $10 million and $4 million, respectively, in support of blanket supplementary feeding programs in drought-affected Somali Region.

In late August, health actors reported a 27 percent increase in the number of new acute watery diarrhea (AWD) cases, predominantly in Afar, Amhara, and Tigray regions. The increase is attributed in part to community transmission at large public gatherings at holy water sites, as well as seasonal worker migration. In Somali, the number of newly reported cases has continued to decrease since peaking in April. As of August 29, health actors had recorded more than 43,000 suspected AWD cases and nearly 840 related deaths in Ethiopia, according to WHO.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix survey for July–August identified approximately 573,800 IDPs in 290 sites across Somali Region, representing a nearly 1 percent decrease in the IDP population and an increase of more than 20 displacement sites compared to May–June figures. Approximately 54 percent of surveyed IDPs identified drought as the primary cause of displacement, while 45 percent identified conflict as the primary cause. Three sites reported daily food assistance, while approximately 47 percent of sites received monthly cash-based or in-kind food assistance and 51 percent of sites received irregular food assistance. The survey also identified an estimated 9,500 IDPs in Gambella Region and more than 27,000 IDPs in Tigray Region, a 46 percent and 7 percent decrease, respectively, from the previous survey.

In August, USAID/OFDA partner the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) transported 540 people and 3.67 MT of humanitarian cargo, supported 33 organizations, and conducted four medical evacuations across Ethiopia, the UN reports. In FY 2017, USAID/OFDA has contributed $500,000 to UNHAS for the provision of logistics and transportation support for humanitarian organizations in Ethiopia.

The UN released a revised flash appeal on September 7 calling for approximately $106 million in additional humanitarian funding for September–December, bringing the total requested funding for 2017 to $271.7 million. The revised appeal follows an increase of approximately 800,000 people expected to be food-insecure between September and December—amounting to a total population of 3.4 million acutely food-insecure people—as identified by the Government of Kenya (GoK)-led long rains assessment released in early August. With the additional requested funding, humanitarian partners aim to support 1.9 million of the 5.6 million people expected to require assistance between September and December. As of August, international donors had provided more than $71 million, or 43 percent, towards the original appeal to support emergency needs in Kenya. The GoK provided $124.3 million in complementary funding to support the response between November 2016 and June 2017; however, additional GoK funding will likely be unavailable in the coming months due to political developments in Kenya.

From January 1–August 29, the GoK and relief organizations recorded more than 2,400 suspected cholera cases and 40 related deaths in 16 of Kenya’s 47 counties, according to WHO. As of late August, seven counties had active cholera outbreaks: Garissa, Kajiado, Machakos, Nairobi, Nakuru, Siaya, and Turkana. In Nairobi, relief actors recorded approximately 1,170 suspected cholera cases—more than 50 percent of the countrywide total. The UN attributes ongoing cholera transmission to the use of unsafe water sources and poor food handling, as well as inadequate case management. The GoK has activated a national cholera task force to coordinate the emergency response and is collaborating with relief organizations to support efforts to prevent further cholera transmission.

The ongoing nurses’ strike, prompted by demands for increased wages and other employment benefits, continues to adversely affect health and nutrition services in Kenya, according to relief actors. The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reports that 50 to 80 percent of health facilities in six drought-affected counties are non-operational as of September. In Garissa and Turkana counties, immunization rates in June and July declined by 50 percent compared to January–May rates, while antenatal care and skilled birth attendance rates dropped by 30 percent during the same period. In response to the limited health care capacity, authorities in the arid and semi-arid lands (ASAL) counties have implemented certain mitigation measures, including provision of daily stipends for nurses to run maternity centers and increased outreach services by relief actors, UNICEF reports.

Recurrent natural disasters and ongoing complex emergencies remain major contributors to vulnerability across the Horn of Africa, negatively affecting the lives and livelihoods of populations throughout the region. Somalia has experienced a persistent complex emergency since 1991 due to chronic food insecurity, widespread violence, and recurring droughts and floods. The 2011 drought severely reduced food security among Somali pastoralists and populations in marginal farming areas, resulting in Famine levels of food insecurity in areas of Bakool, Bay, Lower Shabelle, and Middle Shabelle regions, as well as among IDPs in Mogadishu and the nearby Afgooye corridor.

Despite modest improvements in recent years, malnutrition rates in Somalia remain among the highest in the world, and ongoing insecurity in the country—particularly in areas that lack established local authorities and where al-Shabaab is present—contributes to the complex emergency. Sustained life-saving assistance, coupled with interventions aimed at building resilience, is critical to help vulnerable households meet basic needs, reduce malnutrition, and protect livelihoods. An estimated 6.2 million people in Somalia require humanitarian assistance through December 2017.

Since the Horn of Africa drought crisis of 2011, USAID has scaled up efforts to build resilience in drought-prone areas. The GoK continues to lead drought response efforts, and the GoE is building increased response capacity, with support from the USG, other donors, and relief actors.

Multiple consecutive seasons of below-normal rainfall and the effects of the 2015/2016 El Niño climatic event resulted in deteriorating agricultural, livestock, food security, and nutrition conditions in northeastern and central Ethiopia. By December 2015, the GoE estimated that 10.2 million people required emergency food assistance and other humanitarian interventions during 2016, in addition to nearly 8 million chronically food-insecure people requiring Productive Safety Net Program support.

In response to the drought in Ethiopia, USAID activated a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) and Washington, D.C.,-based Response Management Team (RMT) in March 2016; the DART and RMT stood down in November 2016 as humanitarian conditions improved. In August 2017, the GoE estimated that 8.5 million people will require humanitarian assistance in Ethiopia through December, primarily due to newer drought-related needs in southern and southeastern parts of the country. In addition, 4 million chronically food-insecure people supported through the Productive Safety Net Program will require assistance through 2017.

In addition to drought, populations across Ethiopia confront other challenges—including seasonal flooding, localized intercommunal conflict, above-average food prices, disease outbreaks, and limited access to health and WASH services—that contribute to sustained humanitarian needs and an ongoing complex emergency.

In Kenya, drought conditions have exacerbated chronic stressors, including food insecurity and malnutrition. Through ongoing FY 2015−2017 programs, USAID/OFDA and USAID/FFP are supporting efforts to strengthen health and nutrition systems in drought-affected areas in coordination with USAID/Kenya resilience initiatives to mitigate the effects of recurrent natural hazards.

On October 6, 2016, U.S. Ambassador Stephen M. Schwartz renewed the disaster declaration for the complex emergency in Somalia for FY 2017. On March 28, 2017, Ambassador Schwartz declared a separate disaster due to drought and food insecurity in Somalia for FY 2017.

On October 18, 2016, U.S. Chargé d’Affaires, a.i., Peter H. Vrooman redeclared a disaster for Ethiopia in FY 2017 in response to the ongoing complex emergency.

On February 17, 2017, U.S. Ambassador Robert F. Godec declared a disaster for Kenya due to the effects of drought and increasing food insecurity and malnutrition.