Heavy rains end three-year drought, but cause destruction - NGOs

Heavy rains in Somalia over the past year have ended a drought cycle that had lasted more than three years, but have also led to flooding and livestock deaths, according to the Food Security Analysis Unit of Somalia (FSAU).

"In northern Somalia, the 2004-2005 Deyr rains have ended the three-year drought cycle in the region," FSAU said in their monthly assessment of food security and nutrition in Somalia. "Given the multiple shocks in this region, including drought, freezing rains, flooding...there will be a considerable lag time before most pastoralists will begin to recover."

"Combined with the extent of environmental degradation, cumulative livestock deaths - an estimated 84,000 people require immediate humanitarian assistance and another 158,000 require livelihood support," the report added.

The brief, compiled in collaboration with the USAID-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network, also said that while rains in central Somalia had been fairly good, civil insecurity and unrest had distorted markets and limited access to grazing and other resources in the region.

An estimated 61,000 people in central Somalia were in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the report.

In southern Somalia, the rains led to a much-needed recovery in most of the region. Pastoralists had benefitted from renewed pasture and water, while livestock productivity and migration patterns returned to normal.

The statement reported, however, that the heavy nature of the rains led to a very poor maize production season in the southern areas of Juba and Shabelle. The southern regions of Juba Riverine and northern Gedo, according to FSAU, remained in a state of "continuing and severe humanitarian emergency, affecting an estimated 195,000 people".

FSAU called for immediate longer-term humanitarian support for the two areas, which have been beset by chronic food insecurity and malnutrition.

The brief also noted that an estimated 376,000 internally displaced persons, scattered throughout 34 settlement camps in Somalia, were a vulnerable group in need of assistance.

Somalia has been plagued by severe drought for several years at a time the country had no legitimate government. In October 2004, a transitional federal government was chosen, which, it is hoped, will ultimately improve food and livelihood security for its vulnerable populations.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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