Famine in Somalia killed almost 260,000 people between 2010 and 2012Listen /
Almost 260,000 Somalis died from famine and food insecurity during the last drought between 2010 and 2012, according to a report by the Famine Early Warning System on Thursday.
The study, commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), says half of the people who died were children below the age of 5.
Mark Smulders, a senior economist at FAO, says there were several factors for what he calls "a terrible tragedy", including the slow response to the warnings about the famine.
"The global community recognizes that response was too slow at the scale that should have been stepped up earlier. The main reason was limited access because of security concerns. Humanitarian access to southern Somalia was very difficult but the population also had been weakened over time and then suddenly really a very serious drought probably the most serious drought in 60 years… very quickly in the middle of 2011."
Mr. Smulders says looking forward, the population in southern Somalia remains weak, and more work needs to be done particularly now that the country has a credible government.
He adds that United Nations agencies are already working to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience of Somali households and others in the Horn of Africa plagued by drought year after year.
Gerry Adams, United Nations.