Narratives of Famine

Somalian famine

This paper is important reading for anyone working in or on Somalia because it presents the Somalian famine of 2011 from the perspective of those who lived through it in their own words. The Somali voices bring critical (but often neglected) insight to the study of the crisis, particularly in today’s context where the distance between local populations and humanitarian actors is increasing as remote management is becoming the new norm.

Through the stories you will understand the Somali perspective on the evolution of the famine and, in particular who survived, who did not, and why. The narratives show that one of the main internal factors that influenced people’s ability to manage the crisis was their socio-political identity and social networks.

This report also serves as background to (and effectively the database for) our 2015 report, “Facing Famine: Somali Experiences of the Famine of 2011.”

To learn more about Dan Maxwell’s research on the famine, check out his book, Famine in Somalia: Competing Imperatives and Collective Failures 2011-2012. The video abstract for the book is available for viewing here.






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This study examines how anticipatory action was perceived and experienced among Ethiopians living with drought alongside other crises.

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This learning brief explores the continuity and changes to livelihoods in select sites in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties, Kenya, and reviews the implications of the continuity and the changes on the drivers of child acute malnutrition.

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This learning brief presents preliminary findings on strategic mobility and its nutritional benefits to pastoral and agropastoral communities in select sites in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties, Kenya.

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This learning brief presents preliminary findings about the cause (drivers) of persistently high rates of child acute malnutrition in select sites in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties.

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This policy brief examines the relationship between famine declarations and funding since 2011. It shows that, with that one exception, there is little evidence that famine declarations actually result in a rapid increase in funding.

Cover of Report "Sex, age (and more) still matter"

This report reviews progress, outlines barriers to further progress, and makes recommendations to advance gender equality in the humanitarian system.

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