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

At International AIDS Conference One Goal, Many Paths

The 12,000 delegates attending 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne have vastly different visions about how to eradicate disease More

Disasters May Doom Malaysia’s Flag Carrier

Even before loss of two jets loaded with passengers on international flights, company had been operating in red for three years, accumulating deficit of $1.3 billion More

Afghan Presidential Vote Audit Continues Despite Glitches

Process has been marred by walkouts by representatives of two competing candidates, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani 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.
Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Agei
X
Elizabeth Lee
July 20, 2014 2:36 AM
Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.
Video

Video Diplomatic Crisis Grows Over MH17 Plane Crash

The Malaysia Airlines crash in eastern Ukraine is drawing reaction from leaders around the world. With suspicions growing that a surface-to-air missile shot down the aircraft, there are increasing tensions in the international community over who is to blame. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Undocumented Immigrants Face Perilous Journey to US, No Guarantees

Every day, hundreds of undocumented immigrants from Central America attempt the arduous journey through Mexico and turn themselves over to U.S. border patrol -- with the hope that they will not be turned away. But the dangers they face along the way are many, and as Ramon Taylor reports from the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, their fate rests on more than just the reception they get at the US border.
Video

Video Scientists Create Blackest Material Ever

Of all the black things in the universe only the infamous "black holes" are so black that not even a tiny amount of light can bounce back. But scientists have managed to create material almost as black, and it has enormous potential use. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Fog Collector Transforming Maasai Water Harvesting in Kenya

The Maasai people of Kenya are known for their cattle-herding, nomadic lifestyle. But it's an existence that depends on access to adequate water for their herds and flocks. Lenny Ruvaga reports for VOA, on a "fog collector."

AppleAndroid