The Danish Refugee Council (DRC) is concerned about the alarming food security situation in Puntland and other regions of Somalia where food and water is increasingly becoming scarce due to the ongoing severe drought. Additionally, DRC is concerned about increasing displacement of civilians as a result of clan and sectoral conflicts in various locations in South Central Somalia, with the latest conflict in Galkayo displacing over 75,000 persons.
Somalia has over the years weathered cyclical shocks related to climatic hazards but the ongoing drought in various regions including Puntland, Gedo and Jubaland as well as the continuing displacements resulting from clan and sectoral conflicts in Galkayo, Teyeglow and Qandala are worsening and compounding the humanitarian situation for thousands of Somalis. “The combination of an ongoing severe drought and new displacements resulting from clan and sectoral conflicts as well as the uncertainty in the areas affected by the withdrawal of Ethiopian forces, is a sure recipe of a gathering storm of increasing humanitarian needs in Somalia that needs urgent attention from all actors,” said Simon Nzioka, DRC’s Country Director of Somalia.
Communities displaced by conflicts are finding themselves in a situation of secondary displacement and humanitarian agencies are increasingly stretched in trying to support all those in need. DRC is alarmed that civilian population are bearing the heavy brunt of these conflicts as they are caught up in the fighting with no protection and most are opting to flee from their homes and villages in search of refuge.
As part of the drought emergency response, DRC in partnership with other WASH Cluster members have carried out a rapid needs assessment in Afmadow, Juba region in order to determine the severity of the drought conditions on the communities. The assessment indicates that a total of 21 villages in Afmadow district are facing severe water crisis that is threatening the lives of animals which majority of communities rely on as part of their daily livelihoods. “Most of the water berkeds that we visited are dried up and pastoralists are being forced to walk long distances in search of water and pasture for their already malnourished animals,” said Dahir Mohamud, DRC’s Area Manager in South Central Somalia. “There is also increased congestion at the only remaining permanent sources of water which is resulting in long queues at the water points due to the increasing demand for water,” continued Dahir.
DRC has stepped up its response to the water crisis in Afmadow by providing much needed water to the community in four villages (Kombolosh, Kabxanka, Yara Lafagari and Shabax) through distribution of vouchers that are to be used by the communities to access water that is being trucked to their villages. Already over 7,600 individuals have been registered and issued with the vouchers. In addition, DRC will be providing hygiene promotion activities such as distributing over 400 hygiene kits to vulnerable households, carrying out hygiene awareness and training to community members in affected areas.
Puntland authorities in early September, 2016 issued a warning of impending drought and appealed for increased humanitarian assistance to respond to the severe impacts of drought conditions that are likely to affect over 200,000 pastoralists in that region alone. This was followed by a declaration of state of drought emergency by the President of Puntland state. This comes at a time also when the prediction of a possible La Nina has been revised to a probable 70 percent in the Horn of Africa region and for Somalia, the Deyr season (October to December) is likely to experience below average rains in most parts of the country. “In light of the rapidly increasing humanitarian needs in Somalia, DRC echoes the call made by the Puntland and other regional authorities on the need for an increased level of funding to facilitate urgent humanitarian response required to cushion the affected communities before the anticipated rains in order to offset the losses they have encountered from the failed rains as well as the devastating impact of el nino. Further we call upon all parties to the conflict to uphold international humanitarian law and protect civilians from violence and displacement,’ said Simon Nzioka.
DRC has been operating in Somalia since 1997 and continues to support the needs of displacement affected communities using an integrated approach of emergency and life-saving programing that has included WASH, Shelter, Core Relief Items (CRI), Protection, Food Security and Livelihoods (FSL).