Somalia: Famine ends but problems remain


Displaced Somali children queue as they wait for food-aid rations on Jan. 19, 2012 at a distribution centre in Mogadishu. Famine conditions have ended in war-torn Somalia six months after they were declared, but the situation remains dire with a third of the population needing emergency aid.


Tony Karumba

NAIROBI, Kenya — Six and a half months on and Somalia's famine is officially over, according to the UN, which crunches the numbers and determines just how on-the-brink people are on a scale of 1to 5, with 5 being famine.

More from GlobalPost: Somalia famine over, UN says, but Sahel food crisis worsens

Of course the $1.3 billion aid effort helped, and so did good rains and a bumper harvest, but this does not mean everyone is clear of danger. Quite the opposite.

Nearly a third of Somalia's population faces severe food shortages, hundreds of thousands of children are still acutely malnourished and certainly tens of thousands have died during the months of famine.

But it will take more than handouts and rain to prevent famine from returning. Elsewhere in the Horn of Africa there was a drought, a severe one, but no famine.

There was famine in Somalia because there is war and state failure, unlike in Ethiopia, Djibouti or Kenya, which also faced food shortages last year.

There is still war and state failure in Somalia, meaning the specter of famine has not disappeared, it has just receded.

Here's a look back at Somalia, less than a year ago, when the UN declared it a famine state: