The situation of drought in eastern regions of Somaliland is deteriorating with high speed. The situation is more severe than information follow among the media as per our eyewitness in assessment trip to these regions.
Drought is among the most devastating of natural hazards – crippling food production, depleting pastures, disrupting markets, and, at its most extreme, causing widespread human and animal deaths1
Historically Togdher, Sool and Sanaag were rich in livestock and the livelihood of people living in these regions were mostly dependent on livestock products including meat, milk, ghee, skin and livestock export. As we went across the regions we have seen that almost majority of livestock were killed by hunger and thirsty due to drought.
People in the visited rural areas were most of them migrated and absent from their land and moved to western regions of Somaliland, across the border to Puntland or joined their relatives in near districts.
According to Food Security Cluster standards for five point scale of food insecurity2, the situation of these regions are in Emergency situation. They are at risk of famine. The drought was most of its worst ever in history either I experienced or heard3. The agreed name of this drought is Sima (Somali word meaning equalizer). The name comes because the drought affected to all regions of Somaliland. Though, the magnitude of this current drought harshly affected to eastern regions of Somaliland. Old people would tell you, in the past, the drought used to affect some specific regions and people and livestock moved to rainy regions for survival but now there are no rainy regions at all. However, the western regions of Somaliland received
2 The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) is a set of tools and procedures to classify the severity of food insecurity using a widely accepted five-phase scale. At the area level, it divides areas into the following phases: IPC Phase 1=Minimal; Phase 2=Stressed; Phase 3=Crisis; Phase 4=Emergency; and Phase 5=Famine.
3Very old interviewee in Oog village IDP camp
Support Received by Drought Victims
In our travel to Erigavo, we have noted a hundred kilometers distance without people and livestock except one family (mother and son) living in Bush house alone whom their livestock were all killed by drought. They burnt out the dead animals to avoid the bad smell.
Limited Humanitarian organizations were working in Eastern regions for different purposes. Some of them distributed limited water, ration and cash relief. However, due to the fact that the drought exceeds beyond imagination few haphazard interventions wouldn’t change the situation on the ground. 100 barells water tanker works between Gar’adag and El-Afwein districts in Sanaag region and offers free water. The water tanker irrigates every other week to each village. However, due to need and size of the land, the water tanker covers 5% of the need on the ground4. The challenge is when the water tanker defect the 5% will be lost.
Water available in some villages is too salt and is risk for people to drink because since people are in hunger the salt water is too hazard to kill the liver. Mother fetching water from remote village mentioned Berkad in Our children at risk of cholera because the only available water here are salty and impure water.
Figure 4: Mother collecting salt water from remote village, Magaloyar, Togdheer
Many IDP camps established in the three regions and the situation of people living in the camps is ruthless. For some camps, they didn’t get aid from the drought Committee (whether national or regional), Charity organizations or the government while the other camps confirmed they got support from drought committee only at once. There are 600 HHs in Oog IDP camp mostly are children and old women. We never received neither ration nor water from any agency5. Imagine the live of people who lost their primary source of income (livestock), having no food, water and shelter. Despite a very critical and harsh live, the hope of people from their Allah is strong. The question is where has the lots of money collected by drought committees and government for droughts gone?
5Saed Emi, Oog district IDP Camp voluntary manager
To answer that question, we communicated and had meetings with parts of national drought committees, regional and district authorities. Though, the National drought committee members have not been interested for interview they claimed they distributed and delivered a lot of support to needy people in the drought affected areas. However, district level authorities have criticized the drought committees accusing them improper planning and biased distribution of resources.
The mayor of Erigavo Mr. Ismail H.Nur mentioned “The stronger the region, the more government subsidy it gets”. He explained that eastern regions are weak because they don’t get the right support from the central government. That means the system of governance is centralized to capital city and neighboring regions.
The fact that the situation was very harsh and hard to ask people to the future mitigation strategies for recurrent droughts, most literate people were mentioning some steps if taken resembles durable solutions to recurrent droughts in Somaliland. The first issue raised was to reactivate NERAD (National Environment Research and Disaster-preparedness). Some of the participants stated that government has no clear strategy to address the droughts and disabled the mandatory agency to Sheikhs who have no clear idea about copying mechanisms and mitigation strategies of drought. Decisions distributed to aid are more biased because it is either the wish of the drought committee or politicized information by government officials6. Second, Grass reserves shall be re-established. The grass reserves will keep the livestock survive during the drought. Third, water Dams is important to install in all regions and keep them save to use during drought. The fourth and final one mentioned is to ensure Early warning system for droughts in Somaliland.
Author – Mohamoud Saed Adad is a certified mid career researcher at University of Bristol. Mr. Adad has MBA and is also a senior undergraduate lecturer at University of Burao. In addition to that Mr. Adad had been working in Non-governmental organizations at different titles in the last decade. He is the Managing Director at Research and Consultancy Center (RCC).
You can reach him at: firstname.lastname@example.org