Tuesday September 23, 2014

Drought in Ethiopia and Somalia

Somalia and Ethiopia are currently facing harsh droughts and food shortages. The situation is bleak in the region, and children and the elderly are the worst affected.

The situation in Somalia is already troubling, where hundreds of thousands of people are already in need of urgent life-saving assistance while another two million people struggle to meet their minimal food requirements and need livelihood assistance to withstand shocks. However, due to a lack of rain since April, over 1 million people are facing huge problems in accessing food due to drought, and are in urgent need of assistance. A further 1.2 million people are clasified as stressed, and are struggling to obtain the minimum food requirements. 21,800 children under the age of five years are malnourished of which 43,800 are severely malnourished.

The sitiuation in Somalia is likely to detaoriate further until there is rainfall, which is expected in October.  It is difficult to predict the level of rainfall, however it is clear that without a decent amount of rain, the situation will become catastrophic.

Affceted communities from Middle and Lower Shabelle, Bay, and Bannadir region are moving towards Mogadishu and other townships with the hope for support and survival. However, a lack of space and resources has created conflict among those who are currently displaced.

Rainfall in Ethiopia has been considerably low since March 2014, with the next rainfall expected in October. There is a huge shortage of water, with all water in ponds and other rainwater harvesting structures having dried up in all districts. Wells are unable to provide sufficient water and areas that depend on these are fearful of a famine similar to that of 2011. In these regions, people rely on livestock for their livelihoods, and the lack of water and food shortages has caused a lot of stress for the animals.

Poor rainfall will lead to poor livestock conditions, extended migration of livestock and heavy concentration of livestock in small areas. Concentration of large number of livestock in small areas will lead to increased conflict situations, transmission of disease and limited access to milking animals by the community which in turn will affect human nutrition, especially children.   In Afder alone, crop production has completely failed. The price of grain has increased, making the situation more difficult for poor households. In the coming months, the situation will continue to deteriorate.

As the situation remains dire in the region, the need for water trucking, vaccination for livestock and food packs for the population is increasing. The region remembers well the East African drought of 2011, and fears are that unless there is intervention, the current situation will follow a similar course. Islamic Relief is closely monitoring the situation on the ground.


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