The droughts in Somalia, whose people have been battling a devastating civil war for more than two decades, are the worst in 60 years. There are 3.7 million people in a critical situation, and in some areas there is already full-blown famine, killing thousands every single day. Those most in need are children: the UN has reported that more than 30% are acutely malnourished. In certain regions, such as Bakool and Lower Shabelle, malnutrition is exceeding 50% and Unicef reports that children are dying at a rate of about one every six minutes.The increasingly unpredictable nature of the security situation makes it difficult for the UN and most NGOs to deliver aid. For many Somalis, the choice to stay or walk across the dangerous and dusty land in search of food and water presents equally risky alternatives. For those who stay, there is no guarantee food will arrive. For those who go, there is no guarantee they will survive the journey.This is the choice that Halima Omar and thousands of Somali women have to face. Halima, whose family was well off with 100 cattle four years ago, was forced to become one of many thousands of drought-displaced people migrating to urban centres in southern Somalia in search of help after three years of droughts killed all of her cattle. She watched four of her children starve to death and wonders how long the remaining two will survive.This famine, however, did not occur overnight. It was not unexpected. The international community was warned nearly two years ago that livestock were perishing, food prices were rising and that the conflict was creating a devastating situation for an overwhelming number of Somalis. In September 2009, Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said more than 50,000 Somalis had fled to Kenya in the start of 2009 alone, and in the same year the UN estimated that there were 3.8 million Somalis in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. This famine, like most, has been a gradual process that the international community has chosen to ignore.When I returned to Somalia in 2010 for the first time in almost 20 years, the situation was already critical. There were many internally displaced people’s camps in Mogadishu. These camps were growing larger by the day, and because of the conflict children were dying then at almost the same rate they are dying now. I believe the international community has failed to tackle this crisis and thus we must do more now, before it’s too late.In the town of Dobley, near the border of Kenya, a local Somali NGO worker named Hassan recently told me during a phone conversation of his impossible situation. He says: “Currently there are around 1,800 people entering the town on a daily basis, but I can only feed 120 people a day.” The remaining 1,680 starving men, women and children desperately look on. He says the town is safe – it is guarded by militia men supporting the transitional federal government, and the terrorist group al-Shabaab has been driven out of the area – and yet there are barely any other aid agencies with a presence there. He continues to feed the 120 people in the hope that the 1,680 others will get access to aid soon too.What is needed right now is for the international community to act immediately to save the millions who are starving. Food, water, medicine and shelter are all urgently needed. Aid needs to be delivered strategically to minimise the distance people are travelling in search of food and water. It is also vital that the UN and international NGOs work closely with the Somali diaspora NGOs, the locals and the transitional government, as it’s Somalis who know the people, the culture, the country and the region.A long-term development strategy to ensure that when the famine finally comes to an end, it really does come to an end, is equally important. To be battling famines in the 21st century is a scandal. Let’s just hope that this time we can once and for all say “never again”.