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Over 20% of Somalia’s population are facing alarming food and water shortages due to an ongoing drought. In November, the Federal Government of Somalia declared a state of emergency and appealed for urgent humanitarian support.
Somalia is facing a looming drought situation, following below average rains over the last three consecutive rainy seasons, and no rain during the current rainy season. This has resulted in a shortage of water, loss of crops, a high number of livestock deaths and skyrocketing food and water prices.
Somalia, one of the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, has experienced more than 30 climate-related hazards since 1990, including 12 droughts and 19 floods – and the frequency and severity of climate-related hazards is increasing.
As of 30 November, the United Nations estimated that 2.6 million people in Somalia - 22% of the population - were affected by the drought, with 113,000 people displaced across the country as a result. This has worsened an already fragile humanitarian situation impacted by conflict, climate change, desert locust infestations and the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s now estimated that 7.7 million people will need urgent assistance in 2022 – an increase of 30% from 2021.
"The communities affected by the drought are already vulnerable. Now, they risk losing their livestock, their livelihoods and possibly their lives."
Rural communities living in the Gedo region in the south west of Somalia, where it borders Ethiopia and Kenya, are particularly vulnerable. Access to water was already limited and now temporary water sources people depend on, such as rainwater catchments, boreholes and underground reservoirs, have dried up earlier than usual. This has caused livestock to die or deteriorate and created a huge vacuum in many families’ household income, in turn putting people’s lives at risk.
For many communities, the only viable option is migrating to neighbouring areas or regions with water or water trucking, where water is transported over long distances to people in areas with no permanent water points. However, this has doubled in price.
Danny Harvey, Executive Director of Concern Worldwide (UK), said: “This is a dire situation that requires immediate and urgent action. The communities affected by the drought are already vulnerable. Now, they risk losing their livestock, their livelihoods and possibly their lives. We must act quickly to mitigate the impacts of the drought, that are worsening every day."
Concern has been working in Somalia since 1986 and is supporting the humanitarian response in the Gedo region. The initial response to the looming drought includes water trucking, cash assistance, deepening 15 shallow wells, and assessing the rehabilitation needs of three boreholes.
Further responses are being planned to address additional needs, including health and nutrition as additional funding becomes available.