Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Menkhaus
This research explores why two similar severe droughts in Somalia produced such dramatically different results; one, in 2011, resulted in a famine that claimed 250,000 lives, while the second, in 2017, resulted in almost no excess mortality. Understanding which factors produced such divergent outcomes is important not only for future drought response in Somalia but for more effective humanitarian response globally. The comparative study draws on both field interviews conducted in East Africa in January 2019 and existing reports and published works. Ten variables were identified in the literature review as potentially significant causal factors. The research concludes that changes in a combination of four variables was decisive in averting famine in 2017. They are: (1) a shift in the degree of risk tolerance of relief agencies, (2) improved capacity to act with a shift away from remote operations by international aid agencies, (3) the importance of a few key personalities to drive donor and agency engagement and action, and (4) key differences in the political and security context in Somalia.