The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said Wednesday it has spent 13 million U.S. dollars in August to help over 150,000 households, most of them in south and central Somalia, amid drought and inflation.
The charity said the households received enough money to buy food for a month, the first in a series of monthly payments intended to provide emergency relief to people pushed out of their homes by the severe drought battering the country.
“The purpose of cash assistance is to help the most vulnerable people to survive and to minimize debt,” the ICRC said in a statement.
It said each family was given 90 dollars to cover the cost of food or other necessary items, through a program the charity runs.
The United Nations has warned that a historic fourth consecutive failed rainy season, skyrocketing prices, and an underfunded humanitarian response have resulted in a 160-percent increase in the number of people facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity, starvation and disease in Somalia.
The ICRC said the drought has persisted for four consecutive rainy seasons, and that its economic impact on the vulnerable communities is aggravated by the protracted armed conflict and rising food and fuel prices.
“With the next rain due in October, rural families, stripped of their livelihoods, continue to flee to towns, hoping to receive help from relatives and aid groups,” the ICRC said.
More than 30,000 people were displaced in May, 100,000 in June, while July recorded 83,000, according to United Nations data.
Since January 2021, more than 1 million people are believed to have been displaced because of the drought.
The ICRC said it supports agricultural cooperatives with training, drought-resistant seeds, farming tools and cash for the fuel needed to irrigate to help people build resilience in the face of the worsening impact of climate shocks.