Taking the big step: Concern’s daring response to Somalia’s 1992 food crisis

October 16, 2015
Photo by Staff Sergeant Charles Reger/US Marine Corps, courtesy US National Archives

Anne O’Mahony, Concern’s International Programs Director, used creativity, daring, and invention to help during the 1992 Somali food crisis.

“I think he thought I was slightly mad, but he did it anyway…”

In 1991, a civil war in Somalia coincided with an historic drought, leading to an outbreak of famine and conflict. By 1992, 4.2 million people, over half of Somalia’s population, faced starvation, malnutrition, and disease. Warring clans often prevented food from getting to those in desperate need, deepening starvation and resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths.

Anne O’Mahony, International Programs Director for Concern Worldwide, talks about the enormous and often dangerous challenges she and her Concern team faced as they pushed further inside the country to save thousands of lives.

I asked him if he would run his animals around the airstrip to see if there were any mines…Nothing exploded, the airstrip was clear, and that airstrip subsequently became the busiest airstrip in Africa.