by Chrispinus Omar
NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The worsening
drought in Somalia has put the lives of 300,000 children at risk
of death and starvation as the country confronts one of its
worst droughts since 2011, a global aid agency said on Friday.
Simon Nyabwengi, National Director of World Vision
International-Somalia Programme, told Xinhua that the drought
situation is worsened by the lack of funding to address a
growing humanitarian catastrophe.
"Failure of two consecutive rainy seasons, Gu (short) and
Deyr (long) has brought severe drought to Somalia since 2015.
"The continuous failure of rain throughout 2016 has made the
situation even worse," Nyabwengi said.
He said the drought which has hit large parts of Somalia has
caused a critical shortage of water, forcing children, women and
men to walk long distances in search of drinking water, mostly
from contaminated sources.
The consumption of the contaminated water has been attributed
to an outbreak of cholera and the Acute Watery Diarrhea (AWD).
At least 875 people were reported to have been affected by
the outbreak which has claimed the lives of 66 people in
Southern Somalia’s Jubbaland State.
The World Vision official said the drought has particularly
taken a heavy toll on children.
The children mostly lack access to key sources of nutritious
food, such as milk because of the ongoing drought.
This has left the children more vulnerable to starvation and
Somalia’s efforts to attract the attention of
international donors to its drought have not gained momentum.
According to World Vision, only 20 percent of Somalia’s
required emergency funding has been received, leaving millions
of people at the risk of famine.
Somalia humanitarian operational plan is less than 20 percent
Approximately 825 million U.S. dollars is required to
reach 5.5 million Somalis facing possible famine by June.
Nyabwengi said urgent action at this stage has a high chance
of saving over 300,000 children who are acutely malnourished as
well as over 6 million people facing possible starvation.
The charity said the drought has caused several disruptions,
including new population movement trends.
More people are moving from the regions in Madug, Nugal and
Puntland towards Bari, near the Red Sea, in search of pasture.
"The current movements have been seen more in the Southern
and Central Somalia.
"People are moving from villages to urban centres where they
assume help would be available," Nyabwengi told Xinhua.
The drought-related distress migration from rural areas to
towns is widespread.
"At least 250,000 people have been internally displaced due
to drought since November 2016, UN figures show.
Somalia is staring at a health crisis.
A cholera outbreak is
spreading at a rapid pace and leading to deaths and disease in a
majority of regions.
There is a sharp increase in cases of cholera in 12 of 18
regions, in particular in Bay and Bakool regions, World Vision
The drought has resulted from successive poor rainfall, which
wiped out crops and killed livestock.
The severe drought has made local communities more
Most have been forced to sell their assets and borrow food
and money to survive.
Nyabwengi said access to sufficient safe drinking water has
become a challenge for drought affected communities.
"The extreme lack of access to water is a key driver of the
crisis in arid areas," the World Vision official said.
From January to March, World Vision said it has assisted a
total of 136,278 drought-affected.
UN and partners warn 108
million people face severe food insecurity worldwide
UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) --
Some 108 million people worldwide were
severely food insecure in 2016, a dramatic increase compared
with 80 million in 2015, according to a UN-backed report on food
crises released Friday.
"The cost in human and resource terms only increases if we
let situations deteriorate," said UN Food and Agriculture
Organization (FAO) Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva, in a
news release on the Global Report on Food Crises 2017.
"We can prevent people dying from famine but if we do not
scale up our efforts to save, protect and invest in rural
livelihoods, tens of millions will remain severely food
insecure," he added.
Civil conflict is the driving factor in nine of the 10 worst
humanitarian crises, underscoring the strong linkage between
peace and food security, said the report.
"Hunger exacerbates crisis, creating ever greater instability
and insecurity. What is a food security challenge today becomes
tomorrow’s security challenge," said WFP Executive Director
"It is a race against time - the world must act now to save
the lives and livelihoods of the millions at the brink of
This year, the demand for humanitarian and resilience
building assistance will further escalate as four countries are
at risk of famine: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and northeast
Other countries that require massive levels of assistance
because of widespread food insecurity are Iraq, Syria (including
refugees in neighboring countries) Malawi and Zimbabwe.
In the absence of immediate and substantive action, the food
security situation in these countries will continue to worsen in
coming months, according to the report.
UNICEF warns of
displacement and insecurity in Somalia as drought escalates
MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) --
The escalating drought crisis
in Somalia that has affected half of the country’s population
could worsen conflicts, displacement of populations and
terrorism, a UN official said.
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Chief of Field Office
in Central South Somalia Eltayeb Adam told Xinhua in a recent
interview that the current drought cycle in Somalia has
displaced rural communities that are flocking to towns in search
of basic necessities like food and water.
"We are expecting the number of displaced people in Somalia
to increase as the drought intensifies in many parts of the
"Children will drop out of school and could be recruited by
armed groups," said Adam.
The Horn of Africa nation is grappling with a biting drought
that could develop into a catastrophe unless the international
community hastens provision of life saving interventions like
food aid, clean water and medicine to avert deaths.
Adam noted that massive crop failure and drying of water
points have aggravated hunger, malnutrition and spread of
The UNICEF official warned that a combination of hunger,
malnutrition and disease outbreaks will undermine the resilience
of Somalia’s political, social and economic structures.
He singled out child labor and gender based violence among
social ills that will worsen in the current drought cycle.
"Some parents are asking children to come out of school and
engage in economic activities. So we expect increase in child
labor," said Adam.
He revealed that the Baidoa region alone is hosting 60,000
displaced persons as drought escalates.
UNICEF has rallied the international community to increase
support for life saving interventions in Somalia and avert a
looming humanitarian crisis.
Adam said that food aid, supply of clean drinking water and
medicine are urgently required to prevent deaths.
He disclosed that UNICEF and partners have prioritized
investments in strategic areas like vocational training for
children affected by drought to rescue them from the snare of
"We are doing a lot of work in terms of awareness raising
with different stakeholders to stop recruitment of children by
armed groups," said Adam.
"We provide psychosocial support, vocational skills like
masonry, carpentry to children rescued from armed groups and
re-integrate them in the society," he added.
He emphasized that Somalia and bilateral partners must invest
in long-term drought resilience interventions in order to
sustain political stability, economic growth and social cohesion
in the Horn of African state.
UN says drought displaces
444,000 Somalis in four months
MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) --
Severe drought which is ravaging Somalia
has displaced more than 444,000 people from their homes since
November 2016, the UN humanitarian agency said on Friday.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of
Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned that the risk of famine in
2017 remains severe as drought conditions continue to worsen.
"Should the April to June rainy season perform poorly,
purchasing power will decline to levels seen in 2010/11, and
should humanitarian assistance be unable to reach populations in
need, famine remains a strong possibility," OCHA warned in its
OCHA said some of the displaced people are forced to trek
long distances because they cannot afford transportation costs.
It said many of the displaced are moving into existing
Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) settlements while others have
set up new settlements in towns.
"Some 4,100 people have crossed over to Dolo Ado camp in
Ethiopia since January 2017.
The majority of new arrivals are from Bay, Gedo and Middle
Juba," it said.
The UN relief agency said the developments in northern
regions of the country are expected to be slightly favourable
but a significant decline will likely be experienced in southern
and central Somalia and may be only marginally better than 2011
It said the situation in rural areas, some of which are
inaccessible to humanitarian partners, is particularly critical.
"The depletion of water sources has forced communities to
rely on private water vendors at prices many can barely afford.
Conditions in early 2017 are comparable to early 2011," OCHA
Horn of African states
pledge investments in drought resilience programs
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Countries in the Greater Horn of Africa region on Friday renewed
their commitment to scaling up investments in drought resilience
programs in order to cushion vulnerable population from an
escalating food and water insecurity.
Senior policymakers and experts from Inter-Governmental
Authority on Development (IGAD) attending a forum in Nairobi
said targeted investments in early warning, public awareness and
climate resilient agricultural systems is key to containing
endemic hunger, malnutrition and water stress blighting the
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Planning and Devolution Mwangi
Kiunjuri said improved weather forecast technology, ecosystems
regeneration and public awareness are key to minimize the impact
of recurrent droughts in Greater Horn of Africa region.
"Our region is going through a major drought that poses
serious threat to livelihoods and economic development.
"It is critical for countries to invest in farming systems
and infrastructure that are resilient to droughts that are
expected to occur frequently due to climate change," Kiunjuri
The UN contends that an estimated 20 million people are
affected by drought in the East and Horn of Africa region owing
to suppressed rains in the previous seasons.
Kiunjuri noted that compared to 2011, the current drought in
the region is unprecedented in terms of intensity and
geographical reach while timely interventions have averted
"The impacts of the current drought have not been so severe
when compared to the one in 2011 thanks to better preparedness
and response from individual countries and humanitarian
agencies," said Kiunjuri.
He urged governments in the region and their bilateral
partners to invest in long-term drought resilience measures like
improved crop and animal husbandry as well as sound ecosystems
"We need to plan and budget for worst case scenarios, expand
social safety net programs and establish drought recovery fund
to cater for the most vulnerable," Kiunjuri said.
He revealed that Kenya’s emergency drought response fund set
up by the national government recently has strengthened
lifesaving interventions earmarked for an estimated 3 million
people affected by the phenomenon in 23 counties.
Countries in the Greater Horn of African region are exploring
innovative financing mechanisms to enhance their response to
frequent drought cycles linked to climate change.
The Executive Secretary of IGAD Mahboub Maalim said political
goodwill and improved cross-border information sharing will
strengthen drought resilience in the region.
"We are not yet out of the woods and should brace for severe
droughts in every two-year cycle.
The priority should be rapid investment in resilience
programs," said Maalim.
Unied Nations urges new
Somalia cabinet to tackle challenges
MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) --
The UN envoy in Somalia on Friday lauded the
parliamentary approval of the new cabinet and called on
ministers to move swiftly to tackle myriad challenges facing the
Horn of Africa nation.
The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for
Somalia Michael Keating said the new cabinet contains a healthy
mix of experienced leaders and relative newcomers to the
political stage which is ready to get into action.
"The parliamentary approval was a bright green light.
"The challenges ahead, including drought, insecurity and
corruption, are enormous," Keating said in a statement issued in
The newly installed 27 cabinet ministers which include six
women, the largest number of female ministers ever to be named
to a federal government cabinet, was approved by Parliament on
Keating said the number of women represented another positive
step towards empowering Somali women in the political affairs of
Some 24 percent of the seats in Somalia’s tenth parliament
were occupied by women during the recently concluded electoral
The UN envoy also noted with approval the Federal
Government’s blueprint spelled out by Prime Minister Hassan Ali
Khaire just prior to the parliamentary vote on the cabinet.
Khaire had underlined the need to eradicate poverty, build up
Somalia’s security services in order to eliminate the scourge of
terrorism, and expedite the constitutional review process that
will lay the foundations for the holding of one-person, one-vote
elections in 2020.
Keating said the UN will work with Somalia’s international
partners to support the government’s efforts to deliver tangible
outcomes on these priorities.
"The UN and international partners look forward to working
closely and fruitfully with the president, the PM and the new
cabinet as they tackle the many political, economic, security
and humanitarian tasks facing Somalia today," Keating said.
Minorities in Somalia urge Government to
implement laws barring social discrimination
Somalia holds high-level conference on social