After five consecutive failed rainy seasons, millions of rural Somalis are struggling through an unprecedented and deadly drought, many in regions still plagued by thirty years of extremist militant violence.
The decades of intermittent drought, conflict, and political instability had left the country dangerously reliant on imported grains—with over 90 percent of wheat supplies coming from Russia and Ukraine. Since March 2022, however, global grain tariffs and fuel prices have spiked, placing more pressure on an already precarious and fragile economy.
In 2022 alone, over 1.4 million Somalis fled from the worst-affected drought regions for crowded IDP settlements in search of water, humanitarian aid, and safety. Many of this growing number of displaced persons are women and children from rural farms and villages who often walk for days through scorched scrubland and militant-held areas to begin new lives in tented shelters. In addition, UN experts estimate that some four million farm animals have perished due to drought and, in the process, decimating millions more livelihoods dependent on livestock and herding.
The latest rainfall projections by long-range meteorological analysts are yet more alarming for 2023, with continued below-average rainfall expected. For those in the rural central regions, this latest drought is a disaster of historic magnitude. By mid-2023, over 8 million people—nearly half of the population—will be living through crisis levels of food insecurity, with hundreds of thousands of young children facing severe malnutrition as the country faces an impending famine.