IRC records 265% increase in nutrition cases as risk of catastrophic famine in Somalia rises

  • 265% increase in the number of severely malnourished children under 5 in a single IRC clinic in Somalia between April and May 2022
  • 200% increase in the price of fuel and the treatment of malnutrition since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, severely impacting the delivery of aid – 230,000 people are already living in starvation conditions
  • 7 million of a population of just 16 million face starvation in Somalia in the next 2 months if aid is not immediately increased

As the worst drought in decades ravages East Africa and the crisis in Ukraine impacts global fuel and food prices, the IRC has seen a sharp increase in admissions for acute malnutrition in IRC clinics across Somalia, with one clinic seeing a 265% increase in admissions from April to May 2022.

Hashi Abdi, Supply Chain Manager for IRC Somalia, said:

“We have had to drastically reconsider our operations due to the sharp increase in prices and fuel over the past few months. When we don’t have enough medical supplies in our clinics, we have to turn away the growing number of patients who need intensive care and support. This is happening all the more frequently as vital aid is diverted to Ukraine, leading to an even more drastic reduction in the aid we can provide. As always, it affects the most vulnerable the most. Without immediate international funding, catastrophic famine is undoubtedly on the horizon for Somalia and the region as a whole.

250,000 people, half of them children, died during the 2011 famine which came after three consecutive seasons without adequate rainfall and the humanitarian response plan was less than 50% funded. The 2022 Somalia Food Security Humanitarian Response Plan is currently only 20% funded as we enter the fifth consecutive season without adequate rainfall, exacerbated by increasing climate pressure. The IRC calls on international leaders and donors to direct urgent and immediate funding towards drought in East Africa to avert impending famine.

The IRC is operational in key areas of concern including Mogadishu, Puntland, South West and Central Somalia, and is significantly scaling up our programming to support families with healthcare for malnourished children, cash transfers unconditional in helping people quickly get the support they need, the rehabilitation of boreholes and water sources as well as mobile health services to reach deeper into hard-hit areas.

The IRC began working in Somalia in 1981 following the Somalia-Ethiopia conflict. Over the years, operations have faced several interruptions due to insecurity and civil unrest, but have been operating continuously since 2007.

Notes to Editors:

  • The World Food Program has warned that the number of hungry people in the Horn of Africa due to drought could rise from 14 million to 20 million by the end of the year.
  • More than 7 million people in Somalia suffer from severe food insecurity (IPC Phase 3+) of which 230,000 people live in catastrophic conditions close to famine (IPC Phase 5). Famine is likely to be declared in the coming months if humanitarian assistance is not immediately stepped up.
  • In the nutrition clinic which saw a 265% increase in malnutrition cases from April to May, 17 cases were recorded in April and 62 cases in May. On average in 2021, this IRC clinic recorded an average of 10 to 12 cases per month.
  • Fuel prices have fallen from 50 cents per gallon before the Ukraine crisis in February to $1.50 per gallon

About IRC

The International Rescue Committee responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore the health, safety, education, economic well-being and power of people devastated by conflict and disaster. Founded in 1933 at the call of Albert Einstein, the IRC works in more than 40 countries and more than 20 American cities to help people survive, regain control of their future and strengthen their communities. . Learn more at and follow the IRC at Twitter & Facebook.

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