Drought killed 43,000 people in Somalia last year
For five wet seasons in a row, Somalis waited for rain while their crops withered, their cattle perished and many people died of hunger or disease. A new report, released by UN agencies and the Somali government, estimates that there were 43,000 “excess deaths” in the country last year. Now Somalis are waiting for signs of the “Gu” rains, which are due next month. A slightly improved forecast and a recent drop in food prices offer hope, but even when this drought finally ends it will take years for indebted families to restock their animals and assets. Governments and aid agencies should start planning for the next one by developing strategic water points and infrastructure, argues Guyo Roba, head of the Jameel Observatory in Kenya, an international research partnership in Nairobi. Too often, their focus fades when the emergency does. “Immediately we get a better season, we go back and sleep,” he says.