Thousands of Somalis are in dire need of aid, following a severe drought in several areas of the self-declared republic of Somaliland and the semi-autonomous state of Puntland in northeastern Somalia, relief workers told IRIN on Sunday.
The worst affected areas were Togdheer and Sool regions, Nudal valley and Mudug.
Some affected people in these areas had started moving to less affected regions and urban centres such as Las Anod, Bossaso, Garowe and Galkayo, the sources said.
Abdihakim Ahmed, a programme coordinator for Save the Children-US, told IRIN in the Somaliland capital, Hargeysa, that pastoral communities in the most severely affected areas had lost over half of their sheep and goats, 70 percent of their cattle and 35 percent of their camels.
Food stocks, he added, were virtually non-existent in some areas of Sool and Togdheer, and most traditional water points had dried up.
Abdi Ahmed Iidle, Mayor of Burao, Somaliland's second city, told reporters during a news conference on Sunday that the lack so far of the usual long (Gu) rains meant no recovery was expected soon.
He urged international relief agencies to send more aid, adding that several organisations were already trying to provide food, water and immunisation services.
The first signs of severe drought were reported in January 2004 in the Sool Plateau, which includes Sool and Sanag regions. An inter-agency assessment conducted in May 2004 found that the eastern Togdheer region was equally affected.
According to Somaliland officials, the Deyr (short) rains expected earlier this year had largely failed to materialise, except in areas along the border with Ethiopia, which had received some rain.
Somalia has, over the last four years, experienced partial or total rain failure, prolonging a dry spell that has eroded the traditional coping mechanisms of its predominantly pastoral population.
Relief workers said inter-clan conflicts, environmental degradation and the lack of a strong central government had also exacerbated long-term food insecurity in the country.
In March, the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation warned that food shortages meant some areas of Somalia had reported malnutrition levels of more than 20 percent.