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

Video British Fighters on Frontline of Islamic State Information War

It’s estimated that several hundred British citizens are fighting for Islamic State alongside other foreign jihadists More

Pakistan's Political Turmoil Again Shines Spotlight on Military

Thousands of protesters calling for PM Sharif to step down continue protests in front of parliament, as critics fear political impasse could spur another military coup More

Photogallery Ebola Quarantines Spark Anxiety in Liberian Capital

Food prices rise sharply as residents attempting purchases clash with security forces, leaving one person dead 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.
Native Bees May Help Save Cropsi
X
Deborah Block
August 22, 2014 12:23 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video Native Bees May Help Save Crops

U.S. President Barack Obama has called for a federal strategy to promote the health of bees that have been declining. The honeybee has been waning due to parasites, disease and pesticides. Wild bees may be used to take over their role as crop pollinators. Scientists first need to learn a lot more about wild bees, says biologist Sam Droege, who is pioneering the first national inventory on native bees. VOA’s Deborah Block went to his research laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, to bring you more.
Video

Video US Defense Officials Plan for Long-Term Strategy to Contain Islamic State

U.S. defense officials say American air strikes in Iraq have helped deter Islamic State militants for the time being, but that a broad international effort is needed to defeat the extremists permanently. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the group formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, is better organized, and financially and militarily stronger than any other known terrorist group. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug-Resistant Malaria Spreads in Southeast Asia

On Thailand’s border with Myanmar, also known as Burma, a malaria research and treatment clinic is stepping up efforts to eliminate a drug-resistant form of the parasite - before it spreads abroad. Steve Sandford reports from Mae Sot, Thailand.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid