SOMALIA: Livelihoods in jeopardy after poor rainfall

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Severe water and food shortages in Somalia’s northeastern self-declared autonomous region of Puntland are forcing families to leave their homes to look for resources elsewhere.

Most of Puntland’s population relies on livestock and fishing, but poor rainfall has left people struggling to make ends meet.

The Minister for Local Government and Regional Development, Ali Abdi Aware, said the problem was most acute in the eastern region of Bari and parts of the disputed region of Sanaag (both Puntland and Somaliland claim the area).

"We had very little Deyr rains [October-November] and we have had even less rain in the Gu season [April-June] so far, which has exacerbated an already bad situation," Aware told IRIN.

He added: "We are getting reports of livestock dying and people who depend on fishing seem to be suffering the most. Because of the high seas, they cannot go out to fish and what little livestock they had is either dying or so weak they cannot even sell it, much less use it for milk and meat."

Said Waberi Mohamed, the district commissioner of Qandala, one of the worst affected areas, said some families had already left their homes and there were severe food shortages, adding: "We depend on fishing and livestock and both are out of reach now."

Mohamed said the Puntland administration had a plan to truck water to the most seriously affected areas, but they "did not have the capacity" to deal with the situation alone.

He called on international aid agencies to intervene before the situation deteriorated, saying: "Some of the population has reached the stage where they are no longer able to cope.”

He said the priority was to deliver water and distribute food to people who had lost their livestock, and the fishing communities.

The most affected villages are Af Kariim, Bashashin, Daankadus, QaanLaaye, Unuun, Harago and Canjeel, all in the Bari region.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-Somalia) said it was in contact with the Puntland authorities. "We have been informed of the situation and we are doing a joint assessment with the authorities in certain areas, to ascertain the extent of the humanitarian needs," said Reena Ghelani, the acting head of OCHA-Somalia.

Source: IRIN