Severe drought causes starvation and livestock deaths in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) – Besides causing loss of human lives, severe drought in Somalia has affected over half a million livestock population and has led to large-scale displacements in the region.

Adan Mohumed Farah, country adviser for the UK-based humanitarian group Save the Children, said the situation was alarming as 4.3 million people are estimated to be affected by the drought. As many as 271, 000 have abandoned their homes in search of water, food and pasture.

Jibril Ali, 35, resident of Wajid town in Bakool region, said his 50 goats and 15 cows have died due to hot weather and lack of vegetation.

“I lost all my livelihood because almost all my animals died due to the drought,” he said.

Further cattle prices have also crashed in the market, bringing more problems for the pastoralists.

Adan Moalim Ali Ibrahim, an elderly pastoralist in Baidoa, the administrative capital of the South West State of Somalia, said before the drought the price of a camel was over $800 and now it is less than $250.

He said he saw 20 vehicles full of people leaving the area, which was worst affected by the drought. The people are flocking to major cities including Baidoa, Kismayo and the capital Mogadishu.

Religious scholars and other outside people are urging the public to help the displaced persons.

Rabdhure, is a small district located in the Bakol region. The drought in that area dismantled the livelihood of thousands of families.

Mohamed Khair Salaad, the district commissioner of Rabdhure, said that his area was facing one of the worst droughts in recent history. He said 50% of livestock in the district have died.

The region mainly is under the al-Shabaab blockade and this drought has created further problems as most people are out of reach for the humanitarian workers and government officials.

“We have organized the community and local administration to help the people who are suffering from al-Shabaab blockade and droughts,” he said.

In his area, a woman and two children died due to a lack of water, food and malnutrition. Officials say that so far 16 human lives have been lost due to drought.

Somali Prime Mohamed Hussein Roble has declared drought as a humanitarian emergency.

Salaad said the political infighting has aggravated the situation. Roble and Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed have long been at loggerheads over the long-delayed elections, with fears their squabbling could erupt into violence.

“The election dispute, political infighting and lack of attention to the drought has caused huge consequences and the government should look into the issue we will be seeing a lot of human deaths,” he said.

Approximately 1.4 million children or over 44% of the population of children under the age of five are likely to be acutely malnourished due to the non-availability of food, according to Save the Children.

Farah said the political stand-off due to the election has created uncertainty, and overshadowed, the attention needed to prevent droughting drought in Somalia.

“Donor’s attention and energy were directed to the fear of governmental system collapse and derailing all progress gained in the last couple of years,” he said.

The UK-based voluntary group has said the situation was so severe that 420,000 children going to school are facing the risk of dropping out and expect clan conflicts on managing water sources.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, the upcoming rainy season is expected to be below average, meaning that Somalia will continue to face the fourth consecutive drought season.

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