The United Nations has declared a state of famine in some parts of southern Somalia where the worst drought in over half a century is already being blamed for thousands of deaths.

An estimated 3.7 million people, or more than one-third of Somalia's population, is in need of emergency aid, the UN's food agency said on Wednesday.

"Every day of delay in assistance is literally a matter of life or death for children and their families in the famine-affected areas," Mark Bowden, the UN humanitarian co-ordinator for Somalia, said.

"It is likely that tens of thousands will already have died, the majority of those being children."

The UN has appealed for $300m to help victims of the drought, and aid groups have criticised the slow response of many Western governments to fund the shortfall.

Al Jazeera's Mohamad Adow reports from Nairobi, Kenya.

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