Famine/Malnutrition in Somalia

I wanted to talk about the famine of two thousand eleven in Somalia and the malnutrition in their country at all times. In Somalia tens of thousands of people dies from the famine caused by a serious drought. It was their worst drought in over sixty years. The largest group of people who died was children under five years old. The CBN article that was posted for our class said that during this drought parts of Somalia had the highest malnutrition levels in the world. The article went on to stats shocking facts about the devastation of this famine. The drought has affected eleven million Somalians and many people are fleeing to the surrounding countries of Kenya and Ethiopia (Gartenstein-Ross).

The people are trouble surviving this because they have reserves for food, but they were quickly used up and years of poor rain do not allow them to stock large reserves. Governments can try to help, but when your country has tough climate issues only so much can be done without receiving foreign food aid. Somalia had been receiving foreign aid but the Muslim group al-Shabaad (linked to the terrorism group Al-Qaeda) has been preventing the people of Somalia from receiving aid. They recently stopped during this horrible famine (Gartenstein-Ross). This terror group involvement is another problem that the government and political leaders need to address because these groups take advantage of poor and hungry people. They will join these groups in order to receive food and water. The United States assisted during Somalia’s civil war and the power of warlords is a problem throughout the region.

When people constantly struggle to have clean water and access to adequate food, overall health is severely affected. Africa in general is constantly in trouble with their ability for food and clean water. The climate is so extreme in the region and there is a constant battle for the people to survive. I read an article that referred to and said, “Professor David Himmelgreen has worked in the Department of Anthropology at the University of South Florida for more than a decade. He’s done extensive research in Africa dealing with food, nutrition, chronic disease, and security” (Fields). He and other anthropologist try and find solutions to Somalia’s problems and other African Nations. Vice-President Joe Biden’s wife has led the United States aid effort to help with the drought and famine. There are other programs that constantly help this region and the main one is UNICEF. They say, “640,000 children are acutely malnourished in southern Somalia alone. Their programs support 16 stabilization centers, 201 outpatient therapeutic programs, and 325 supplementary feeding programs” (Fields).

Referring back to the problem with terrorist and militant groups disrupting aid, “When a United Nations food shipment arrived on Friday in Mogadishu, a gunfight broke out and seven people were killed.  Himmelgreen says, “I think it will get better, but it won’t be before a lot more children die or get very sick”(Fields). Not only do these militants take aid away from the Somalians, but also they disrupt refugees from fleeing to surrounding countries. The article says that Somalia has seven million people and over three million people needed food, water, and health care due to malnutrition.

Anthropologists like Himmelgreen knew the situation in Somalia was getting worse. He says, “They have these early warning famine systems in place. The U.S. government has one so there are sets of indicators that they look at and they can tell months in advance if there’s an impending famine. But because of all the politics there was relative inaction”(Fields). It is unfortunate that politics can get in the way of what needs to happen. I think when a serious problem like this occurs people should act and let politics take place later on. The worst part is that children suffer the most. They have the least amount of representation.

Hopefully in the future there can be improvements in famine prevention, but as bad as it sounds Africa seems to never truly benefit from aid. Everything that seems to be done there is just a small band-aid on a very large wound. There are many political and government issues that need to be worked out. The countries have governments, but warlords control many countries. The saddest part is that the people suffer and without the basic human necessities of clean water, quality food, and shelter the health of the country will not improve. The amount of people dying in Somalia also takes a toll on those who survive. The mental and physical health of these people is constantly in shambles. I think anthropologist, health care providers, and political leaders are all needed to fix this lingering problem.


Fields, Tammie. “29,000 Children Dead from Famine in Somalia.” Wtsp.com. N.p., 6 Aug. 2011. Web. 10 Aug. 2012. <http://www.wtsp.com/news/national/article/204731/81/29000-children-dead-from-famine-in-Somalia>.


Gartenstein-Ross, Daveed. “Thousands Dying from Malnutrition in Somalia.” Thousands Dying from Malnutrition in Somalia. Christian Broadcast News, 20 July 2011. Web. 10 Aug. 2012. <http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/world/2011/July/Thousands-Dying-from-Malnutrition-in-Somalia/>.

1 thought on “Famine/Malnutrition in Somalia

  1. Your thoughts on this article and on the situation of much of Africa I found to be quite interesting. You identified that it is incredibly difficult to help out Africa, and possibly even down right impossible. I was reading the article and noticed that the anthropologist was not able to do much to help those in need besides recommending that people donate. This shows that politics play a large part in global health. For example, it isn’t profitable for us to overthrow the bandits and rebel groups in Somalia in order to create an environment in which to prevent famine, so why do it? (Not saying I promote policing the world, but that is another matter entirely). In my opinion, if there were to be a solution to this problem, I would say proper schooling would prevent a lot of these issues. For example, proper ways to irrigate or even have a self-formed government that would trade rather than simply take supplies. Of course, this is all rather drastic and would take years or even centuries to develop. Hence why I found what you said interesting, though not necessarily untrue, that many parts of Africa may be beyond help, at least right now. Sadly, politics play too large a role for something even as basic as human health to be considered an important factor.

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