The UN humanitarian agency said it will release 15 million U.S. dollars to support a series of anticipatory-action interventions over the next 18 months in Somalia.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said the funds from the UN’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) will help Somalia make early intervention in situations where data can reliably warn of impending crises.

“Somalia is facing a projected increase in humanitarian needs due to food insecurity, which has mainly resulted from the impact of the desert locust infestation, flooding, and the COVID-19 pandemic,” the UN agency said in a statement issued on Friday.

It said the initial funding for anticipatory action in Somalia could make a big difference in the lives of Somalis and to the future of anticipatory interventions.

According to the UN, it costs perhaps 50 times as much to save a child who is already suffering from malnutrition as it does to intervene earlier.

In 2019, OCHA said it supported the country team in Somalia in setting up a drought anticipatory action framework, noting that two other frameworks, for drought in Ethiopia and flooding in Bangladesh, will be finalized soon.

The UN agency said even without drought, food insecurity in Somalia is projected to increase to 22 percent of the population in a state of food crisis between July and September, exceeding the threshold for the anticipatory action pilot.

It said the framework in Somalia involves work at OCHA headquarters and at the country level in close cooperation with UN agencies, the World Bank, climate research centers, national authorities, and other partners.

“To maximize the approach’s impact, OCHA is engaging closely with the World Bank on the analytics, as well as the planning and release of finance. CERF funding would be complementary to Somalia Humanitarian Fund disbursements,” said the UN agency.