El Niño’s effects in the Horn of Africa. Somali children are the most affected

Il Corno d’Africa è in ginocchio per colpa di siccità e carestia. Sono 58mila i bambini che combattono, ogni giorno, contro la fame. È tutta colpa di El Niño.

From Ethiopia to Somalia, the El Niño climate phenomenon – linked to the extraordinary increase in oceans’ superficial water temperature that influences global weather and climate – is bringing drought and famine across the Horn of Africa.

Children are the most affected

58,000 Somali children could starve to death without urgent support, according to the United Nations. Somalia, especially the regions of Puntland and Somaliland, is facing one of the worst seasons in the country’s history due to the lack of rainfall that, in turn, force population to live in extreme conditions. “The level of malnutrition, especially among children, is of serious concern, with nearly 305,000 children under the age of five years acutely malnourished,” said Peter de Clercq, the UN aid chief for Somalia.


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Sunset in the refugee camp of Dadaab, Somalia, close to the border with Kenya. Thousands of people flee due to drought, according to the United Nations  © REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Millions of Somali people need humanitarian aid

However, not only children face this dramatic fate. In fact, 4.7 million Somali people are in need of humanitarian assistance, 950,000 of which struggle every day to meet their food needs. These data, collected on field by the UN, come after 4 years of drought and conflict that already caused over 250,000 deaths.


This year’s Humanitarian Response Plan for Somalia provides 885 million dollars (792 million euros) of humanitarian aids to face the needs of 3.5 million people, which means reducing mortality rate due to preventable causes, providing basic services, and strengthening the protection of the most vulnerable people, such as the internally displaced people. There are 1.2 million Somalis who live at the borders, near or even beyond the border with Yemen.

Later in January, the UN first warned about the disastrous, if not inhuman, living conditions populations of the Horn of Africa are facing. In Ethiopia, over 10 million people (out of a population of 94 million people) live in severe food insecurity due to the worst drought in 30 years.

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