Dan Maxwell and colleagues take action as famine risk rises in Horn of Africa

The situation in the Horn of Africa continued to worsen through 2022 and into 2023. The region has now experienced five below-average rainy seasons in a row—a drought of unprecedented scale in living memory, with nearly 21 million people facing acute food insecurity and more than that facing acute shortages of water. In December the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) projected famine in two districts in Somalia in 2023, as national and international efforts scaled up to meet the crisis.

Dan Maxwell and colleagues started raising the alarms early in 2022. They continue to do so as the situation in Somalia and the region continues to worsen.

  • From January 17-19, Dan Maxwell participated in a meeting on the Ending Drought Emergencies Strategy in Nairobi, Kenya. The original strategy was developed after the 2011 drought in the Horn of Africa. Participants in this meeting discussed how to extend the long-term strategy to deal with drought and its consequences.
  • On November 6, 2022, Dan Maxwell was quoted in the New York Times article, “Somalis Are Going Hungry. Their Government Isn’t Calling It a Famine.”
  • On October 6, 2022, Dan Maxwell delivered the keynote address to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Conference on “Beyond Food Crises” in Nairobi, Kenya, resulting in a region-wide communique on the food crisis affecting the IGAD region (east Africa and the Horn).
  • On October 28, 2022, Dan Maxwell was quoted in the VRT Nieuws (Belgium) story that explored the situation in Somalia.
  • On October 13, 2022, Dan Maxwell was quoted in the Time magazine article “Hardly Anybody Has Noticed Somalia Is Having Its Worst Drought Ever. Here’s Why.”
  • On July 25, 2022, Dan Maxwell was quoted in the Economist article “Somalia is on the brink of starvation.” The article describes the multiple factors that are contributing to the worsening situation in Somalia.
  • n June 12, 2022, Dan Maxwell was quoted in the New York Times article “‘We Buried Him and Kept Walking’: Children Die as Somalis Flee Hunger.” The article describes how the worst drought in four decades is imperiling lives across the Horn of Africa with the most devastating crisis is unfolding in Somalia, where almost half the population faces acute food shortages. Dan notes that the crisis scarily similar to the 2011 famine that killed approximately 260,000 people.
  • On May 30, 2022, BBC’s Future Planet quoted Dan Maxwell in “How scientists predict famine before it hits.”
  • On May 20, 2022, Dan Maxwell discussed famine risk with a group of ambassadors and agency heads in Geneva.
  • On May 20, 2022 Dan Maxwell teamed up with Chris Porter (of the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)) to hold a “teach in” on famine for the non-humanitarian actors of FCDO. More than 100 people participated.
  • On May 16, Dan Maxwell was part of a small group who briefed USAID Administrator Samantha Power on the impact of the Ukraine war on humanitarian crises around the world.
  • On May 16, 2022, Dan Maxwell and Peter Hailey briefed ambassadors and other decision makers in Ethiopia on the extent of the crisis there.