March 20, 2021
FILE – Women who fled drought queue to receive food distributed by local volunteers at a camp for displaced persons in the Daynile neighborhood on the outskirts of Mogadishu, in Somalia, May 18, 2019. PHOTO: AP
By Lisa Schlein | VOA News
GENEVA – The World Food Program is warning it may be forced to cut food rations in June for more than a million vulnerable Somalis because it does not have enough money to maintain the operation.
This would deal a heavy blow to vulnerable people in Somalia who are just emerging from similar cuts to their daily food supply. Because of lack of money, the WFP says it was forced to cut food rations by 50% for 1.3 million Somalis last month.
The WFP recently reallocated resources to restore full rations until June. The U.N. agency responsible for providing food assistance globally warns its beneficiaries once again will face increased hunger if it does not receive the money needed to keep the program going.
The United Nations estimates 5.9 million people, half of the country’s population, need humanitarian aid. Currently, the WFP supplies food to 1.3 million of the most vulnerable. Agency spokesman, Tomson Phiri describes those in need as the “poorest of the poor.”
“These are people who live from meal to meal and the kind of assistance that you provide is just enough for them to survive. And, when we cut it by half, we are talking of a basic meal. This is not a three-course meal. This is not a five-course meal. This is not a seven-course meal. No. It is just the basics,” Phiri said.
Somalia hasn’t been able to feed itself because of man-made factors such as ongoing conflict and others, including a desert locust infestation, and the economic impacts of COVID-19, drought and flooding.
Phiri said funding shortages are putting vital nutrition programs at risk. As a consequence, he said malnutrition rates are rising, undermining previous gains made in reducing the number of children suffering from it.
“Without these programs, you are talking of up to 840,000 children who are expected to suffer from moderate acute malnutrition, 143,000 from severe acute malnutrition, and 51,000 are at risk of dying,” Phiri said.
The WFP says it needs $172 million to continue Somalia operations at current levels for the next six months.