How Somali communities & families dealt with the 2011 famine

In 2011–12, Somalia experienced the worst famine of the 21st century. Research on the famine has focused mainly on the external response, the reasons for the delay in an international response and implications for international humanitarian action in the context of the “global war on terror.” The paper “Facing famine: Somali experiences in the famine of 2011” (2015, 25pp) by scientists from Feinstein International Center, Tufts University, focuses on the internal, Somali response to the famine. It examines how Somali communities and households – including those in pastoral clans – coped with the famine in the absence of any state-led response and with considerable delay in international response. It seeks to learn from these practices so as to improve understanding of famine and of mitigation, response and building resilience to future crises. The factor that best determined whether and how well people survived the famine was their social connectedness: the extent of the social networks of affected populations and the ability of these networks to mobilise resources, also from the diaspora. The nature of reciprocity, the resources available within people’s networks, and the collective risks and hazards faced within networks, all determined people’s individual and household outcomes in the famine. These networks are related to the social structures and hierarchies within Somali society.

Posted on 20 November 2015 in Pastoralist Livelihoods & Nutrition