In late July it classified two southern regions of Somalia as having been hit by famine, but the crisis has since spread in the Horn of Africa, which is experiencing a severe and prolonged drought.
Some 3.2 million people in Somalia are in need of immediate life-saving aid — almost half the population, according the U.N.
"Famine is expected to spread across all regions of the south in the coming four to six weeks," the U.N.’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) said.
The U.N. has now declared a famine in two rural districts of the Middle Shabelle region, as well as the parts in and around the capital, Mogadishu, where hundreds of thousands of displaced Somalis have fled into camps, seeking food.
These three areas join the Bakool and the Lower Shabelle region.
Getting aid into war-torn Somalia has been difficult because al Qaeda-linked rebel group al-Shabab, which controls much of the south and central regions and parts of the capital, has blocked key aid agencies from delivering assistance in their territory.
To be classified as a famine, more than 30 percent of children in an area must be suffering from acute malnutrition, two adults or four children per 10,000 people must be dying of hunger each day, and the population must have access to below 2,100 kilocalories of food per day.
It is the first time in 19 years that Somalia — which has been without a central government since 1991 — has experienced famine.