The United Nations on Sunday opened a drought operations co-ordination centre in Baidoa, the administrative capital of South West state, of Somalia.
The centre is expected to promote effective and timely delivery of humanitarian assistance in the region.
The centre was launched three weeks after a similar facility was established in Mogadishu to help address the ongoing drought.
The UN warns that Somalia risks slipping back into famine, as worsening drought has left millions of people without food.
Both of Somalia’s 2016 rainy seasons were below average and the April to June 2017 Gu rains are predicted to be poor, according to U.S.-based Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET).
The UN deputy humanitarian co-ordinator for Somalia, Vincent Lelei presided over the opening of the centre.
“The humanitarian crisis in the South West State has become the worst in the whole country, particularly in Bay and Bakool and Lower Shabelle. As a result, we have opened a new co-ordination centre for the drought response in order to make sure that we reach all those who are in need of assistance. That is priority number one.
Some 320,000 children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, and 50,000 of them are so severely malnourished risking dying without emergency intervention.
Latest statistics indicate that about 6.2 million people, half the total population in Somalia – are in need of humanitarian aid and almost 3 million are facing crisis and emergency levels of food insecurity.
Famine last struck pockets of Somalia in 2011, killing 260,000 people. It was caused by drought, conflict and a ban on food aid in territory held by al Shabaab.