See also:
» 02.09.2004 - Worst drought in 30 years in Somalia, Somaliland
» 18.06.2004 - Drought continues in Eritrea, Somaliland
» 27.02.2004 - UN warns of "starvation" in Somaliland
» 17.02.2004 - Humanitarian crisis in Somaliland's Togdheer region
» 13.01.2004 - War threats in Somaliland drought area
» 06.01.2004 - Drought increases risk of malnutrition in Somaliland
» 22.12.2003 - Food aid reaches Somalilanders
» 26.11.2003 - Somaliland faces "worst drought in decades"

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Agriculture - Nutrition

Worst of Somaliland drought is over

afrol News, 16 February - After more than three years of drought in eastern Somaliland, abundant and well distributed winter rains have led to excellent harvests. The region however still has to recover from the long drought and an estimated 500,000 people in Somaliland and Somalia remain in a state of food crisis.

According to the latest report on food security in Somalia and Somaliland by the agency Food Security Analysis Unit Somalia (FSAU), the "exceptionally good 2004/05 Deyr rains" have led to above average cereal production in most cropping areas. The Deyr rains are annual short rains between November and January that are of great importance to agriculture and livestock in the dry Horn region.

In Somaliland and neighbouring northern Somalia, the 2004/05 Deyr rains had ended the more than three year drought cycle in the region, FSAU says. In Somaliland, especially the troubled eastern Sool and Sanaag provinces - which are partly occupied by Somalia - had been hardest hit, but also the central Todgheer province in 2004 started to note the effects of the long drought.

Cumulative rainfall during this Deyr season had been 160 to 300 percent more than the normal rainfall performance in Somaliland and much of Somalia. Satellite photos had shown that the current vegetation cover is denser than usually at this time of year. The above normal rains had renewed the crippled pasture and water sources in pastoral and agricultural areas throughout the country. This was especially needed in Sool and Sanaag, where water sources for humans and livestock had dried up.

In Somaliland, two harvests are now above average. The Karan 2004 cereal production harvest, in December 2004, in the western, less drought-affected agro-pastoral provinces of Awdal, Galbeed and Togdheer had also been good. Harvests here were estimated at 17,100 metric tonnes, which is 117 percent of the post-war average, according to the FSAU report. Further, the post-Deyr harvests are set to be above average.

However, an estimated 500,000 people in Somalia and Somaliland "still remain in a state of humanitarian emergency or livelihood crisis," according to the definitions used in the FSAU report. These groups were said to "require immediate humanitarian assistance in the form of resource transfers and livelihood support," the report added.

The continued need for livelihood support in Somaliland and northern Somalia was due to the multiple shocks in this region. Eastern Somaliland had been victim to drought, freezing rains and armed conflict. Northern Somalia additionally had been locally hit by the December tsunami and flooding.

Combined with the extent of environmental degradation, cumulative livestock deaths, high levels of indebtedness and widespread destitution, this would lead to "a considerable lag time before most pastoralists will begin to recover." How long it would take for these pastoralists to recover and who would be able to recover, would "largely depend on the outcome of the 2005-2006 Gu and Deyr seasons," the FSAU report said.

The number of people requiring immediate humanitarian assistance was however starting to drop slowly in Somaliland and northern Somalia. In mid-2004, there were an estimated 58,000 people in a state of humanitarian emergency and 160,000 persons in a state of livelihood crisis in eastern Somaliland. The estimates after the Deyr rains have dropped to 52,000 and 115,000 respectively.

For the livestock trade, Somaliland's principal export, the crisis however seems to have ended with more permanent damages. The number of sheep and goats exported in 2004 is similar to that of 2003, but remains far below the numbers exported prior to the livestock ban of 1998, following an animal outbreak.

A new shift in export patterns is further set to concern Somaliland authorities. In 2005, Bosasso port exported the bulk of animals from Somalia and Somaliland, which is a shift from the pre-livestock ban time when Berbera was the main port of export. Bosasso is located in the Puntland region of Somalia - which occupies parts of the Sool and Sanaag provinces - while Berbera is Somaliland's main port.

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