By: Yusuf M Hasan
HARGEISA (Somalilandsun) – The government is concerned about effects of prolonged droughts in some parts of the country.
According to the Vice president Hon Abdirahman Abdilahi Ismail ‘Sayli’ who heads the national drought relief committee, urgent action is needed sooner rather than later in order to avert a humanitarian crisis of unmanageable proportion with attendant human sufferings.
VP Sayli made this observation on completion of a week long drought assessment mission that saw him crisscross a number of regions including Awdal, Salal, Maroodi Jeeh and Sahil accompanied by a team of ministers and other leaders.
During the assessment in Awdal and Salal region where he was accompanied by the minster of Livestock development Dr Abdi aw Dahir and minister of Communication Hon Ali Elmi Gelle, the VP who donated over thirty tons of relief items that included rice, dates and oil heard tales of sufferings from residents of the 32 villages he inspected.
“The over 3 years drought in Salal/Awdal regions has not only depleted the livestock, weakened residents but has also dried water sources, said the VP
According to villagers of the Salal region which is the most hit by the drought water scarcity has become another burden that is continuously exacerbating drought effects. The villagers informed the VP that availability of water is mostly through private water bowsers that charge an exorbitant fee of $2 for 200 litres.
The villagers, who revealed that water scarcity is not solely as a result of the 3 years absence of rain, attributed the scarcity in some areas with boreholes to breakdowns in water pumps or lack of fuel.
VP Sayli who contributed from his personal coffers, two water bowsers (16,000 litres each) to a number of villages, promised to see to it that repairs are undertaken to the water pumps as well as avail regular fuel for the pumps.
During his stay in the region a consignment of over 40 tons of assorted drought relief supplied from the government of Djibouti was distributed to residents. The VP thanked Djibouti president Ismail Omar Gelle for his continued donation of drought relief to Somaliland.
The Djibouti donation is the second consignment of drought relief to be availed Salal and Awdal region by President Ismail Omar Gelle who has become the first to respond to president Silanyo’s appeal for donation.
Residents of Salal region who informed VP Sayli of the continue support they have received from ministry of livestock personnel further paid tribute to the Army commander based at Garrisa.
“The commander has for been conducting official duties in an armored vehicle since he offered his official 4X4 wheel drive vehicle to us, a year ago.
Commander Yusuf Gaab, an Ethiopian trained army officer relinquished his vehicle after he realized that some sick residents were dying not due drought induced weaknesses but lack of medical facilities that are far and apart.
Following his return from Salal and Awdal, the VP thus time accompanied by health minister Dr Hussein Hoog visit some drought affected areas of Maroodi Jeeh and Sahil regions, whose condition is somehow better than that of the western based regions.
According to a report by the VP Sayli led National Drought Relief Committee predicted GU rains have been generally below normal and uneven in 2012. While some parts of the country received good rains, they were patchy in others, and there are zones where it did not rain at all. The areas most affected by the poor GU rains are the coastal stretches of Awdal, Salal, Sahil and Sanaag regions where rains missed for three consecutive years.
The reports received from local administrations, the public, humanitarian organizations and ministries indicate a dire situation in the drought affected areas, where there are critical shortages of both food and water.
There is clear evidence that most of the livestock that could not migrate have been already lost, the people are suffering from severe malnutrition, and that many of them have become destitute and are congregating to nearby villages and towns such as Lughaya, Garbo dadar, Gargaara, Waraqa dhigta, Alihaydh, Eel la helay, Fadhi hun, Eelgaal, Fiqi aadan, Geerisa, Bulahaar, Hagal, Berbera, Beeyo dhaadheer, Raarida buur, Laasdhuure, and others in the eastern coast towards Huluul.
It is estimated that up to 20,000 households have been affected. These people require emergency assistance in food, water, medical care and shelter. If we do not respond and attend to their needs immediately, we might be losing many of them, particularly the most vulnerable, the young and the old, to starvation and dehydration. Day time temperatures in the coastal areas exceed 40°C this time of the year.
Hence, we appeal to the international community: the UN agencies, and international NGOs; our local NGOs and public at large to take action urgently in order to save lives in the drought affected areas. We are confident that together we will rise to the challenge and meet our obligations.