The humanitarian situation in Somalia and Somaliland has become increasingly fragile towards the end of 2016, especially in the northern regions and Eastern Regions. Drought conditions are deepening in Somaliland and Puntland, and have expanded to southern and central regions, including Sool, Sanaag,Saraar, Gedo, Hiraan, Galgaduud and Lower Juba.
The Deyr rainy season, which usually extends from October to December, has so far been poor, and high temperatures combined with limited amounts of rain in October 2016 that have led to drought conditions in most of Somalia, ranging from moderate to extreme. During the month of October, most regions registered less than half of the usual rainfall. Crop and pasture losses are widespread, and water shortages common.
Substantial increases in water prices are being reported in the majority of regions, with price hikes of as much as 66 per cent in Xudur, Bakool region, and 58 per cent in Laas Caanood, Sool region. No significant rainfall is expected in the coming weeks and the drought conditions are likely to intensify until the next rainy season expected in April 2017. Water levels in Juba and Shabelle rivers are below normal for this time of year due to limited rain in the Ethiopian highlands.
Water levels are expected to decline further, putting further stress on communities dependent on irrigation for growing crops.
Two out of five Somalis are already acutely food insecure and prospects for the Deyr season cereal production is bleak, with crop failure expected in many areas. A scale-up of humanitarian assistance is required to prevent further deterioration of the situation. If it continues at current levels, with around 1.6 million people reached per month, the number of people who will be in ‘crisis’ or ‘emergency’ is likely to increase, potentially to a drastic scale.
A 20 per cent increase in number of people who cannot meet their daily food requirements was already registered in September 2016, up from 935,000 to 1.1 million in six months, according to the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU). The nutrition situation has also deteriorated with over 320,000 acutely malnourished children in need of urgent nutrition support, including treatment for more than 50,000 who are severely malnourished and far more vulnerable than any other group.
Water shortages may also trigger further outbreaks of water borne diseases. This follows a major outbreak of AWD/Cholera in the region in early 2016, with Somalia hit most severely, at a scale not seen in recent years. More than 13,600 cases of AWD/Cholera were registered from January to September 2016, up from 5,300 registered cases in 2015.
The latest food security and nutrition analysis from the FAO-managed Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) and the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) issued on 2 February 2017 revealed that the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance has increased from 5 million in September 2016 to 6.2 million between February and June 2017.
That is more than half the population. The current caseload of 185,000 of severely malnourished children will likely increase over the coming months to 270,000 children in need of urgent treatment. Some 30,000 children have already dropped out of school in drought-affected areas only in Puntland and Somaliland.
The FSNAU/FEWSNET results reveal a drastic increase in the number of people experiencing “crisis” and “emergency” levels of food insecurity from 1.1 million in the previous six months, to a projected 2.9 million between February and June 2017. Deyr 2016 harvests represented the second lowest cereal production since 1995, further reducing food availability and access following a poor Gu 2016 season.
Cereal prices have increased since October, and are expected to continue to climb through mid-2017. The situation for children is especially grave. The GAM prevalence is above the critical (< 15 per cent) threshold in 13 out of 27 rural and displaced groups. There are more than 3.2 million people in urgent need of WASH assistance, but it is estimated that the number will rise to 4.5 million. (OCHA, 17 Feb 2017)
The impact of the drought and the demand on humanitarian resources has been further magnified by a number of emerging crises, including an increase in conflict-related displacements .
Saed Ismail H.Awed
Research Based Article