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Data and on-the-ground reporting reveal toll of Somali famine

A malnourished two year-old sits by his mother, left, who was recently displaced by drought, at a malnutrition stabilization center run by Action against Hunger, in Mogadishu, Somalia Sunday, June 5, 2022. Deaths have begun in the region's most parched drought in decades and previously unreported data show nearly 450 deaths this year at malnutrition treatment centers in Somalia alone. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)


Nairobi-based East Africa correspondent Cara Anna, Somalia correspondent Omar Faruk, photographer Farah Abdi Warsameh, and video journalist Mohamed Sheikh Nor joined forces to deliver an all-formats package on the unfolding crisis in Somalia,where severe drought is driving hunger-related deaths.

Until this Only on AP story,media coverage of the drought in the Horn of Africa had consisted largely of aid groups’ dire warnings or isolated stories from the field about grieving families, but little concrete information on how many people have begun to die. Anna envisioned a story that would combine authoritative data on the mounting deaths with compelling human accounts of the famine’s impact.

She dug into reports and data from humanitarian organizations and contacted food security experts for famine and mortality surveys. Anna’s analysis uncovered previously unpublished data including the jump in deaths and child deaths in the hardest-hit area.

Beyond the disturbing numbers, it took the commitment of AP’s team of freelance journalists in Mogadishu to find the people whose stories would put a human face on the emerging crisis.

Somalia is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist,so our team thought carefully about how to report for text,video and photos. They secured an invitation to visit a treatment center in Mogadishu where they met the woman who had watched four of her young children die. They also visited a crowded displacement camp on the city’s outskirts, traveling in a low-key tuk tuk taxi early in the morning to speak with new arrivals who also described watching relatives die or having to leave vulnerable family members behind.

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