Drought effects stretching back to 2014 were aggravated by a severe El Niño in 2016, increasing the impact in 2017, including possible famine. More than half the population, some 6 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance. Drought has affected food and water supplies, leading to a major food security and nutrition crisis as well as widespread measles and cholera outbreaks. Some 600,000 people have been displaced due to drought between November 2016 and mid-April 2017, with most joining existing IDP camps, where needs are high. 

Famine is possible in 2017 if humanitarian assistance is inadequate – a key concern given access remains extremely limited outside of Somaliland: Lower and Middle Juba regions are particularly inaccessible due to the Al Shabaab insurgency.  The government's control is essentially limited to Mogadishu and surrounding areas, although Al Shabaab attacks in the city persist.

The INFORM index score for risk of humanitarian catastrophe ranks Somalia at 9.2 out of 10, the highest of any country.


Latest Developments

No significant updates 15/08. Last updated 08/08

Key priorities

Shelter/NFIs: 739,000 people have been displaced by drought effects since November 2016.?

Health: A widespread cholera outbreak has already affected more people than in 2016, and cases are increasing

Food security: 6.7 million people are food insecure across the country, including 1.1m in severe food insecurity.

WASH: infrastructure requires maintenance, particularly in displacement settlements and areas affected by drought.

Humanitarian access: restrictions continue to affect aid delivery in south-central Somalia.

Information Gaps and needs

  • Population estimates are out of date, with the most recent estimate of 1.1 million displaced people dating back to 2012
  • Lack of regular gender- sensitive needs assessments for sectors other than food security and nutrition.
  • No systematic explosive hazard survey has ever been conducted.
Key documents



Drought in Eastern and Southern Africa

Somalia Security Pact


London Conference


Somali Infant and Young Child Nutrition Assessment