News / Africa

Somalia: Drought Brings Water Shortages, High Food Prices

Somalia: Drought Brings Water Shortages, High Food Prices
Somalia: Drought Brings Water Shortages, High Food Prices

Multimedia

Audio
Joe DeCapua

Somalia has one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters, with hundreds of thousands of people displaced due to conflict.  Now, a prolonged drought is adding to the country’s many problems.  A top U.N. official says he wants the Somali people to know that aid agencies will do everything they can to help.

U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia Mark Bowden has written an open letter to the Somali people. He says he “shares their fears and concerns.”

“Well. I think it’s very much on the basis of explaining to the Somali people what is happening to respond to the drought at the moment and the seriousness with which it’s being treated,” he says.

Deyr and Gu

The Deyr rains – the short rainy season between October and December – failed.  Bowden says that’s had a direct effect on people’s health, especially children.

“We’re seeing for the first time very high levels of malnutrition in places in southern Somalia, where children are suffering rates of 30 percent acute malnutrition.  Now the normal levels, which you start an emergency intervention, is 15 percent for acute malnutrition.  So, it’s double the rate, which is unusual and the highest rates we’ve seen in 10 years,” he says.

And of course with a drought, water shortages are being reported in various parts of the country.

Bowden says, “We’re also seeing drying up of water sources, some communities having difficulty accessing drinking water.  And at the moment, the beginnings of the loss of livestock and the livelihoods of populations in southern, central and parts of northern Somalia affected.”

The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator says little if any relief is expected from the Gu rains – the main rainy season - which under good conditions would begin around April.

“We’ve just seen some recent climatology studies, which seem to suggest that the La Niña phenomenon will persist and will affect and reduce rainfall in the worst affected parts of southern Somalia and the Gu rains as well. So, the prognosis at the moment does not look too encouraging for that part of Somalia,” he says.

Digging for water

If nature won’t provide water in the form a rainfall, then it will have to be found elsewhere.

Bowden says, “We are in some areas paying for water trucking or the movement of water to communities.  But at the moment, our priority is to deepen the boreholes that exist and to create a network of strategic boreholes, which provide both support for the people’s livelihoods to keep their cattle going and also for drinking water.”

If livestock start to die in large numbers, Bowden says many people may migrate back to the capital Mogadishu in search of food and other assistance.  Hundreds of thousands of people have fled the city over the years to escape fighting between forces loyal to the Transitional Federal Government and various militias, including al Shabab.

The U.N. is allocating $60 million to address the immediate needs of the Somali people, but if the Gu rains fail more money will be needed later in the year.  How much? Bowden estimates more than $150 million would be required just to meet the food needs.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid