With Thanksgiving still on our minds, we may find it difficult to think about anything other than that leftover turkey sandwich waiting for us in the fridge. However, as we celebrate a holiday so jam-packed with food and endless servings of grandma’s homemade pumpkin pie, we must also think about those who do not have access to the same abundance of food that we so often take for granted. Unfortunately, this is an inescapable reality for thousands of families across Somalia, suffering from the country’s deep-rooted poverty and underdevelopment. According to a BBC article, “More than 300,000 children [in Somalia] under the age of five are severely malnourished and require urgent assistance.”1 In addition to this, the country has undergone critical drought conditions over a period of three years, causing irretrievable damage on Somalia’s agricultural sector. These prolonged disastrous weather conditions have resulted in the failure of agricultural crops and of water shortages, and millions of citizens in this East-African country are paying the price. To be specific, approximately 4.7 million people are being affected by this shortage of food, amounting to 40% of Somalia’s entire population2. Among these, “50,000 children [are] at death's door"3, their families unable to provide their children with the bare necessities of life.
According to the European Resettlement Network, neighboring countries “Kenya and Ethiopia currently host 492,046 and 240,086 Somali refugees, respectively”4, the numbers still increasing “significantly due to the combined effects of drought, famine and ongoing insecurity in Somalia”3. Although this displacement of citizens has spared many from the immediate threat of famine, it is simply a short term solution for a long term problem. By the end of 2016, Kenya’s largest refugee camp Dadaab (holding approximately 340,000 Somalian refugees) will close for good, as determined by the Kenyan government. This will lead to a countless number of families facing once more the danger of returning to a land that yields no crops.
So often in our busy world, we find no time to give a second thought to anything that occurs outside of the bubble of our lives. However, although these statistics may seem like just another number on a screen, these are real people and real children suffering every single day. According to a recent article by The Guardian, “[In 2014], Somalia…received only 12% of the money it needs [for aid]”2, from the “twenty-three charities- including World Vision, Oxfam, Care International… [that] have united to highlight the perilous state of the country”3. It is easy to see that there is an obvious shortfall in the amount of aid that the country has received, and the effects of this crisis are continuing to spread amongst the population. The Somalian food crisis must be acknowledged by the global community, as a predicament of this size left unaddressed is bound to turn into a catastrophe that will inevitably affect the rest of the world.
One of the best ways to help with a crisis such as this one is to raise awareness. By putting the Somalian emergency under the global spotlight through grassroots organizations that are created by the people for the people, we will obtain the power to feasibly change the situation of many families in Somalia. Within our collective consciousness, we must learn to understand the suffering of others around the world so that we may take initiative to heal, aid, and to show compassion in ways that will create a difference in the world.
1. "Somalia Food Crisis: 300,000 Children Need Help, Says UN." BBC News. BBC, 20 Sept. 2016. Web. 08 Oct. 2016.