This article explores research conducted by Mercy Corps, TANGO International and local partners, and was originally published on DevEx.
When a combination of crises struck Somalia in 2010, famine left millions in need of emergency assistance.
Drought, political instability, conflict, and food price spikes all contributed to what was described as a ”vision of hell.” Dead livestock dotted fields of cracked earth. Emaciated refugees walked for days to reach camps such as Dadaab as eastern Kenya. And desperate mothers faced a Sophie’s choice: To save healthy children, they let the weak ones starve.
Of those affected, 2.2 million were beyond immediate help. Acute insecurity — particularly the presence of Islamist extremists — sidelined humanitarian actors. More than 250,000 people died. However, the costs of the crisis were not equally borne, and despite the absence of humanitarian response, some families adapted or quickly recovered.
We wanted to know why.
Keith Proctor is a senior policy researcher at Mercy Corps. A current visiting fellow at Tufts University's Feinstein International Center, Proctor writes regularly on development issues and holds degrees from Stanford, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Harvard Divinity School.