Monday, October 15, 2012

Somaliland: Drought Leaves Nothing Untouched

The village elders are quick to tell me that Boodhlay, the name of this village, means dusty. A quick glance around shows that this name is very apt indeed.
There is hardly any vegetation here at all. No grass, just pockets of dry scrub, spiky acacia trees and dust as far as the eye can see. Unusually for this part of Somaliland, I can't see a single camel.
Almost everyone in the village is a pastoralist. This means that they are largely reliant on their herds of camels, goats and sheep to provide food, milk and income for their families. When there is not enough rain, the pasture soon disappears and people are forced to move in search of food and water for their animals.
"It is affecting every aspect of life"
Yusuf, one of the village elders tells me: "There have been droughts here for a long time now. The situation is very difficult. It is affecting the food and water supply, our incomes and the children's education. It is affecting every aspect of life."
When the drought came last year many people lost animals. In a place where your livestock are your livelihood, some families lost everything.
Recently, the humanitarian situation in Somaliland has modestly improved. The rainy season – known in the region as the Gu rains – was not as meagre as predicted this year. But there are many pockets of land, like Boodhlay, where the rains have been both late and insufficient. In these areas pasture remains extremely limited and water – both for livestock and human consumption – is scarce.
As Yusuf told me: "People think that because we have had some rains recently everything is OK. But they are wrong. Ten days ago it rained for two days. We've had nothing since. These two days of rain will not fix things. It takes a long time to recover. Nothing has changed."
Our response
Unless assistance is provided, these factors could lead to destitution for many of the pastoral communities that call eastern Somaliland home. We're calling for urgent funding to contribute towards sustainable early recovery in these areas.
We have also have launched an emergency intervention to address the lack of water in villages where we are already working, such as Boodhlay.
The Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) component of our response is already underway, and we're aiming to provide immediate access to safe water for more than 7,000 families. This is being achieved via emergency water trucking, the restoration of water sources (berkads), or a combination of both.
In total we're targeting 21 villages in eastern Somaliland. To date, we've reached 13,557 people, including 6,110 children in the area through our WASH intervention.

In response to 2011's famine in parts of southern Somalia, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) more than doubled its support to Somali farmers, especially in the cereal producing parts in the country's south.

To restore the crop production capacity, FAO distributed appropriate agricultural inputs (cereal seeds and fertilizers) and provided technical assistance in conservation agriculture. In the cropping season that followed 2011's famine declaration, FAO procured and distributed 3750 tons of Urea and 1300 tons of DAP fertilizer to Somali farmers. Other farm inputs included 135 tonnes of maize seeds, 935 tonnes of sorghum seeds and 120 tonnes of sesame seeds.

Distribution of these inputs is aimed at restoring the productive capacity (and improving food security) of some 150, 000 farming households (equivalent to 900 000 people) in Somalia.

However, 2012 has seen the introduction of tractor hours per beneficiary, through which farmers access tractors to cultivate their land resulted in cultivation of over 1,533hectares of land. Through a creating irrigation scheme, farmers pay money to access water pumps to irrigate their fields. As a result, some 8496 hectares has been irrigated to date.

FAO's agricultural activitiesEuropean Commission, United Kingdom, United States, Australia Aid, The World Bank Belgium, Spain and Italy.

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