Severe drought in Somalia and Somaliland

Nearly 4.7 million people (38 per cent of the population) in drought-hit Somalia are acutely food insecure and are at risk of starving if they do not receive urgent support. The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is gearing up its efforts to respond and assist the thousands of communities at risk of being severely affected by the drought particularly in Puntland (Somalia) and Somaliland.

DRC in partnership with other agencies recently conducted a rapid inter-agency assessment in Bari, Karkaar and parts of Sanaag regions in Puntland, Somalia. The assessment shows that nearly 40,000 households (over 236,000 people) are already affected by the ongoing drought – mostly in pastoralists and urban villages.This follows a failure of expected rains in two consecutive seasons in 2015 – resulting in a near-total crop failure and poor availability of pasture and water for livestock.

“Our assessment teams have come back with a very worrying report if urgent action and response is not undertaken soon. In most villages visited, 80 per cent of water berkerds (traditional water reservoirs, ed.) – which are the main sources of water for most residents and livestock are dried up. Additionally, the price of livestock has decreased from USD $ 50 to USD $ 20 between December 2015 and February 2016, due to lack of market and available livestock. This is really hurting the many pastoralists who rely almost entirely on livestock sales as their sole source of livelihood,” says Simon Nzioka, DRC Somalia Country Director.

The Government of Somaliland has already issued an appeal for urgent humanitarian assistance including food, water, medicine and shelter for an estimated 480,000 people in the drought-affected western regions of Somaliland and eastern parts of Sanaag in Puntland. The authorities estimate that one million people are affected by the ongoing drought. Similarly, the Government of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland has also declared a state of drought and issued an urgent appeal for international aid.

Cash distributed

As part of its drought response activities in Somaliland, DRC has already facilitated cash transfers of USD $105 to 298 households (consisting of 1,788 individuals) in two villages in Adwal region, covering 100% of their minimum expenditure for a period of two months.  Those targeted are pastoralist and agro-pastoralists that have lost their livelihood and become internally displaced.

“As humanitarian actors responding to the drought crisis, we must do more to help the already affected communities. We must work towards helping them recover, restart their livelihoods in order for them to meet their basic needs and cushion them against the adverse effects of the ongoing drought,” says Simon Nzioka.

In Puntland’s Bari region, DRC has rehabilitated berkeds, facilitated fabrication of portable water tanks, constructed latrines and rehabilitated one strategic borehole.  DRC has also constructed 50 latrines and constructed four water kiosks in Mudug region, and are currently implementing cash for work and cash transfer and relief initiatives across Bari, Mudug and Sanaag regions, benefitting over 1,200 households.

Fast action is needed

DRC echoes the appeal issued by the Somalia’s Humanitarian Resident Coordinator, Peter de Clerk as well as that of the Somaliland and Puntland authorities for an increased level of funding to facilitate the urgent humanitarian response required between now and when the next rains start in April, 2016 in order to offset losses from the failed 2015 harvest. 

“We must ensure to act now in order to save lives and to ensure that the affected communities can quickly recover when the Gu rains come calling. We call on donors to channel urgent funds that will enable agencies to roll out various emergency assistance to address current needs in Somaliland and Puntland but at the same time link this response to the continuing work of the Somalia Resilience Consortium and other resilience actors so as to ensure long term programming that addresses the shocks that arise from the cyclical natural disasters prevalence in Somalia,” says Simon Nzioka.

DRC has been operating in Somalia since 1997 and continues to support the needs of displacement affected communities using an integrated approach of emergency and lifesaving programming that has included WASH, Shelter, Core Relief Items (CRI), Protection, Food security and Livelihoods (FSL).

Read the assessment here