Most parts of the country are facing critical water shortages, with more than 50 districts facing moderate to severe drought conditions. The situation is particularly concerning as forecasts indicate a second consecutive season of below-average rainfall during the April to June 2021 Gu season. Current forecasts indicate little to no rainfall for most parts of Somalia through the third week of April. The Drought conditions are spreading throughout Somalia against a backdrop of depleted coping mechanisms due to recurrent shocks and high levels of forced displacement; over 1.3 million Somalis were displaced in 2020 and 112,000 have been displaced in the first three months of 2021, about 34% of them due to drought conditions.
Water shortages and repeated displacement compromise access to clean water, increase communicable diseases such as cholera and measles, vulnerability of affected populations, including protection concerns particularly for women, boys and girls who often have to walk long distances to fetch water. Response efforts are underway across the states; however, significant gaps exist. This provides an overview of the current situation by areas affected.
Over the past few weeks, the water shortage and dry conditions in Somaliland has deteriorated, especially in the eastern regions including the disputed regions of Sool, Sanaag as well as Togdheer region, with appeals by local authorities for immediate support for water provision. The Somaliland National Drought Committee was reactivated by the Government in early March 2021. The Committee reported that the severity of drought conditions resulting from the failure of Deyr rains of 2020, has been escalating mainly in eastern regions and some parts of Woqooyi Galbeed. The National Disaster Preparedness and Food Reserve Authority (NADFOR) estimates that 55,275 households in these regions are most affected and in need of immediate emergency food and water assistance. NADFOR further estimates that an additional 110,550 households have been also severely affected by water shortage and food insecurity across Somaliland, noting that 65 per cent of pastoralists in the above-mentioned regions migrated to Ethiopia to look for water and pasture for their livestock.
NADFOR’s analysis corresponds with the FAO/SWALIM update issued on 25 March, which classified the drought condition of Togdheer and Sool regions as “severe”. At present, Save the Children is conducting water trucking to affected populations in these regions, targeting 15,000 people, while UNICEF provided 30 schools in Taleex, Xudun, and Caynabo districts and parts of Buuhoole. Planning for additional WASH assistance is urgently needed.
Access to water and food are emerging as the immediate needs to people affected by the persistent dry conditions in Puntland. According to Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA) and FSNAU estimates, about 746,000 people in Puntland are in crisis and emergency (IPC 3 & 4) and will need humanitarian support through June 2021.
Access to water in parts of Puntland is of the greatest need now following poor performance of past Gu and Deyr seasonal rains in parts of Bari, Nugaal, disputed regions of Sool and Sanaag. Most water points across the state have dried and pasture depleted in many areas due to persistent dry conditions and presence of desert locusts. According to latest humanitarian and HADMA monitoring reports, an estimated 321,600 people across Puntland are facing extreme severe water shortages and the numbers are rising as the dry conditions persist. The water prices across most rural areas in Puntland are the highest across Somalia with the cost of water almost doubled in many parts since January 2020, with a 200-litre barrel of water now selling at US$ 7 to 9 up from an average of $ 3 in normal time. At the end of March, the Puntland Water and Development Agency (PWDA) reported having secured funding to rehabilitate five strategic boreholes. Once repaired before end of April, the five boreholes will help serve a population of 10,000 to 15,000 people thus reducing the pressure on water shortage.
PWDA has appealed for resources to repair additional malfunctioning boreholes. By the end of March, humanitarian partners (Save the Children International, KAALO, World Vision International and Norwegian Church Aid) provided a oneoff water trucking assistance and in-kind food assistance to at least 105,254 people in the worst affected districts (Qardho, Dangorayo, Buhoodle, Garowe and Burtinle).
Galmudug Ministry of Humanitarian and Disaster Management (MOHADM) declared a humanitarian emergency on 28 March 2021 and called on donors and partners to scale-up emergency response activities. The drought risk assessment conducted in January revealed acute water shortage in many parts of Galmudug, particularly in Gaalkacyo, Hobyo, Cabudwaaq, Cadaado and Dhuusamarreeb districts as the worst hit areas. Livestock diseases have been reported across all districts, and pasture depleted. The Food Security Cluster reported that herders resorted to handfeeding their livestock using locally produced cereals, which eventually led to increase in price of those commodities in the markets by 30 per cent.
The price of water skyrocketed across all districts with Hobyo district being the worst affected as a 200 litres barrel of water is selling at US$6.5 up from $3 a month prior. The State Ministry of Water reported that 31 boreholes have broken down further worsening water crisis for people and their livestock in rural areas. According to a joint site verification exercise conducted by the CCCM Cluster in March 2021, about 12,000 new IDPs from Baadweyne, Bajelo, Bitale, Denowda, Tula qorax, Duqaaq and Baraag isse rural villages under Gaalkacyo and Hobyo districts arrived in Gaalkacyo and settled in newly established settlements, namely Deegan Hayaan settlements. Most of the new arrivals are integrated into the host community and depend on relatives for support, while others joined IDPs settlement, particularly Somaliweyn settlement where basic services were already limited. The verification exercise further noted that the IDP population in south Gaalkacyo increased from 55,000 in 2020 to 66,543 in March 2021 due to displacement triggered by armed conflict and drought conditions. Local authorities continue to report on the arrival of new IDPs from already water stressed districts because of deteriorating drought conditions. Currently, Save the Children, International Rescue Committee, and Mercy Corps are implementing water trucking activities in rural villages under Cadaado and Gaalkacyo districts. By end of March, the three humanitarian INGOs reached 7115 rural households (42,690 people) through water trucking. Meanwhile, Care International is targeting 31,332 people in Gaalkacyo, Hobyo, Cabudwaaq and Dhuusamarreeb districts through cash-based emergency food response. However, most partners in Galmudug have reported funding constraints as a challenge in responding to the emerging humanitarian situation.
The prolonged dry conditions of the Jilaal season of January to March 2021 was drier and hotter than normal, resulting in immediate loss of water and pasture among most rural communities in the state. The poor performance of last Deyr rainy season and reduction of water levels along Shabelle river are among the main drivers of water shortages in HirShabelle. The threats of four consecutive crop harvest failures due to floods, desert locust infestation, COVID-19, roadblocks/insecurity along the main supply routes (MSR) and the delayed Gu rains have exacerbated the severity of the drought conditions.
Authorities and humanitarian partners report of severe water shortages in pastoral and agro-pastoral zones in Belet Weyne, Ceel Idaad, Ceel Cade, Farlibaax, Matabaan, Maxaas, Cadale, Jowhar, Balcad and Warsheikh districts. Most of the berkets and other water catchment points have dried up, and existing boreholes reducing water yield due to dry conditions.
Livestock body conditions is weakening in some areas with reported out migration of some affected nomadic communities.
A recent WASH Cluster assessment indicates that 43 per cent of the population in Hiraan region are experiencing water shortages. With reduction of water levels downstream the Shabelle river, farmers and the riverine communities are among those worst affected, leading to family split as a coping strategy as families are forced to send some of their family members to join relatives in towns such Belet Weyne and Mogadishu. The priority needs are water, animal feed for livestock, and food to the most affected people. The WASH Cluster reports that, 51,720 pastoralists received water for 15 days in March with support from an INGO and Government partners. Water trucking, food assistance and agricultural inputs to nomadic communities are urgently needed.
South West State
According to local authorities, dry conditions are affecting an estimated 200,000 people in several parts of South West State (SWS) due to the harsh Jillal season. The WASH cluster partners and SWS Ministry of Energy and Water Resources are reporting that the worst affected areas include Burhakaba, Berdale, Qansaxdheere and Diinsoor of Bay region and Ceel Berde, Rabdhuure, Waajid and Xudur of Bakool region. In Lower Shabelle region, parts of Wanla Weyn, Qoryooley Barawe, Marka and Afgooye have also reported challenges around access to water. According to the State Ministry of Water, the main boreholes in Xudur and Ceel Berde that mainly supply water to the communities in the worst affected towns have not been functional for the last three months due to malfunctioning pumping system. The absence of functional boreholes have affected nearly 15,000 people. Buurhakaba district is the worst affected with reports indicating water price increase of over 50 per cent since December 2020. A 200-litre barrel of water currently sells at almost US$5 in Yeed and Ato, a near 50 percent increase compared to December 2020. WASH cluster partners have provided water trucking assistance to 103,446 people in Baidoa, Yeed, Ceel Barde, Xudur, Buurhakaba and Marka, includingUNICEF/MOEWR (42,000), SCI (24,912), COOPI (9,522) and WVI (12,012) and FMoEWR (6000). An estimated 66.5 per cent of people in need of access to water in the most affected areas have not been reached. Protection of women, girls and boys is a key concern as they often have to travel long distances in search of water. There have been reports of migration and displacements to urban areas especially to Baidoa.
The food security situation in Xudur town of Bakool is compounded by access constraints due to road blockades by nonstate actors and insecurity resulting to food commodity shortages and price increases of foodstuffs. Other areas affected by road blockade and shortage of supplies are Waajid, Qansax Dheere and Diinsoor. Retail prices of basic food stuffs such as sugar, rice, and pasta in these areas has rose by almost 20 per cent since January.
Unlike the other states, the livelihoods of the people in Banadir region is less dependent on livestock and agriculture.
However, the drought conditions are also felt in Banadir as drought-affected people from neighboring regions come to Banadir in search of water and food. An estimated 6,000 drought and conflict affected people from neighboring regions have reached Banadir region since last two months. These people have joined the existing IDP settlements in Banadir region, overstretching the already scarce resources available. Water scarcity has been reported in most of the IDP settlements in Banadir including settlements where the new arrivals live. The scarcity is in part due to humanitarian resource limitations as a result of inadequate funding. However, the dry conditions have exacerbated the water problem as many drought affected IDPs came to Banadir, increasing needs in the region. The WASH cluster partners started provision of water to 93,000 vulnerable IDPs in some of the settlements in Kahda, Daynille, Garasballey, Hodan and Dharkeynley districts. Gaps exist in reaching the needs of IDPs especially in Kahda, Daynille and Garasballey settlements.
More than 80 per cent of water sources have dried up posing grave health and associated risks to lives and livelihoods.
Despite ongoing responses to the drought conditions in Jubaland, huge gaps remain. Out of the over 390,000 people affected by water shortages for household and livestock use, emergency water trucking has reached just about 30 per cent of those affected. Food security and livelihood partners have managed to reach 124,000 people with unconditional cash transfers since January 2021. Livelihood support with farm inputs remain limited.
Efforts to reach rural communities with water trucking are hampered by access constraints due to the presence of non-state actors, and inadequate funding. The consequences of the shortages on the food and livelihood security of this largely pastoral and agropastoral communities has been exacerbated by sharp increases in the price of water between January and February by up to 60 percent in some areas notably Baardheere and Ceel Waaq, and has led to the steady movement of poor households into towns and along the Juba River banks, and some migration of livestock into Ethiopia and Kenya. On 30 March, 200 households from the Luuq rural areas arrived at Luuq and Garbahaarrey towns in search of water and food.
Poor households have reported high levels of indebtedness and depletion of food stocks.
Without sustained humanitarian assistance, and the forecast of an underperforming Deyr (April – June) rainy season, it is estimated by the end of April, 21 percent of the population will be in Crisis and Emergency up from the 15 per cent in February, and 28,290 children (33 percent of all children under five) will be acutely malnourished due to food consumption gaps.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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