Nelly Bassily | May 5, 2008
Amina Sheikh Nurow and her children eat just one meal a day. They live in a camp for displaced people in southern Somalia. Many women in the camp earn money selling firewood and washing clothes in the nearby city of Baidoa. But the money they earn buys less food every day.
The price of local sorghum doubled between February and the end of March, this year. Ms. Nurow explains that when she can’t afford to buy sorghum, she gives her children water with sugar.
The ongoing civil conflict has forced more than one million Somalis to leave their homes. The country has also been hit with a series of droughts. Harvests have been limited and countless numbers of livestock have perished. These factors add to global pressures causing food prices to rise.
Peter Smerdon is a spokesperson for the World Food Programme. He said that increased food costs may force the World Food Programme to cut its rations or reduce the number of people it supports.
The rise in food costs extends beyond areas affected by conflict. Humanitarian agencies report that families in many parts of Somalia are surviving on one meal a day. The UN’s Integrated Regional Information Networks quoted a businessman from the self-declared republic of Somaliland, who said families in Burao city are buying less than half of their usual food supplies.
In Mogadishu city, despair over food insecurity turned to violence on May 5. Somalian security forces opened fire on thousands who were, for the first time, violently protesting against rising food prices. Five people were killed.