- The seven-year drought in the Sool Plateau of Somaliland is now turning into a famine, according to international assessments. Some 64,000 Somalilanders are reported to face an acute food emergency, according to the UN.
More than 200,000 people in Somaliland and central Somalia "are facing food shortages and starvation brought on by a long period of drought considered the worst in 30 years," a new report from the UN, the European Union (EU) and the United States says.
Several years of below normal rainfall have adversely affected pastoralists in the two areas, leading to the deaths of 20 to 80 percent of their livestock and loss of income from sales of milk and meat, according to the report from the UN-EU Food Security Assessment Unit and the US agency Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS).
While local incomes have been falling, the cost of trucking water to the area has risen, according to the report. Some 10 percent of the population of Somalia and Somaliland, or 89,100 people, in the districts are in a humanitarian crisis, while another 113,900 are suffering from a severe decline in their livelihoods.
The situation is worst on the Sool Plateau in Somaliland, "where 64,000 people are in a food emergency," the report says. Another 28,600 Somalilanders were reported to be "affected by a livelihood crisis."
In the Sool Plateau of eastern Somaliland, last year's short rains (Deyr) failed for the seventh consecutive time and the next rainfall is not expected until April this year. The drought in the plateau has been a discreet, slow onset shock over the past three years and that it is the longest and most severe dry spell in the region since at least 1981.
The increasing humanitarian crisis in the impoverished region has been known to the international community for a longer time, but food aid has been slow and minimal. Already in November last year, a FEWS report warned that "an immediate and coordinated response from the international community is needed to avert disaster."
During the three drought years, cumulative livestock losses have decimated herds and altered herd composition, according to FEWS. In November, it was estimated that 60-70 percent of camels and 50 percent of sheep and goats in the area have died. Pastoralists thus have lost 60-70 percent of their income from drastically reduced livestock sales. Milk production is reported to be close to zero.
Reports from Somaliland this year indicate that the crisis only has deepened since November last year. Access to clean and safe water for humans and livestock is running out and diseases are starting to spread. Further, social services are reported to erode as health services run out of drugs and schools are closing due to high dropout rates.
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