People in drought-affected regions of central and southern Somalia need urgent help after losing most of their livestock, the deputy prime minister and minister of information, Ahmed Abdisalam, told IRIN on 30 January.
"The reports we are getting are that the drought-affected areas are in a grave situation, with shortages of water, inadequate pasture for remaining livestock and the consequent destitution of many families," Abdisalam said.
He said the worst-affected regions were Hiiraan, Galgadud, Mudug and parts of Bay and Bakol and Gedo and urged “our humanitarian partners to redouble their efforts to address the acute suffering of those in need".
He said the transitional government could not address the situation alone and appealed to the international community to provide assistance.
Mohamed Awil Janagale, the district commissioner of Abudwaq in Galgadud region, said almost all the area was affected, "with some pastoralists losing between 60 and 70 percent of their livestock".
An aid worker in the region told IRIN that the "Deyr rains [October-December] were a complete failure in the area and the population was facing acute food and livelihood crisis".
He added that Dusa Mareb, Adado and Guri Eil in Galgadud region have "the highest concentration of displaced people [from Mogadishu] in the area". Dusa Mareb and Guri Eil host 54,000 displaced people and Adado 24,000, according to the UN.
A Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) report issued on 10 January confirmed that the Deyr rains had been below normal in most parts of central Somalia, resulting in limited grazing for animals and reduced water availability.
Reports from the field in the past two weeks have indicated severe water shortages for both humans and animals in the central regions of Hiiraan and Galgadud and pockets of Bay and Bakool, it added.
Justus Liku, the food security sector coordinator for CARE, said the agency was aware of the deteriorating food security situation in these regions and had already sent 4,500Mt of assorted commodities to Galgadud and South Mudug. "We are targeting about 240,000 people in Galgadud and South Mudug with our interventions," he said. Arrangements were being made to send additional food to Hiiraan, he added.
For its part, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) said it was in the process "of putting plans in place to assist agro-pastoral communities" in areas of Bay and Bakool regions. However, Peter Goossens, WFP Somalia Country Director, said: "As much as WFP wants to respond quickly, access is always an important determining factor of how fast assistance reaches to those who need it most."
Abdisalam said the government would do everything it can to facilitate humanitarian access to the affected areas.
According to the aid worker, the most immediate needs were water and food. "Water trucking and food distribution have to be the immediate priority."