ERIGAVO, May 13, 2009 –
A severe drought that has gripped Somaliland's Sanag region in the past
months has hit pastoralists hardest, with hundreds of families moving to
urban centers after their animals died, officials said.
"We estimate that up to 400 families [2,400 people] have been displaced
to Erigavo [the region's capital], after they lost their animals in the
recent drought," Yasin H Nour, the mayor of Erigavo, told IRIN.
"Hundreds of families are now in a serious situation due to the drought
that has hit the region. Their cattle and donkeys have already died; now
their camels and sheep are dying daily," he added.
The drought has also affected regions surrounding Sanag in both
Somaliland and the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland.
The region has suffered consecutive rainfall failure in the past three
Officials in the El-Afweyn, Hulul and Dararweyne districts of Sanag said
60 percent of pastoralists' animals had died in the drought.
The most affected areas are in the eastern regions of Sool, Sanag and
Togdheer, according to Mursal Askar Mire, the mayor of El-Afweyn
"WFP [UN World Food Programme] and its partners used to supply food to
the district and other rural surroundings but they stopped at the
beginning of this year," Mire said. "Now the situation has deteriorated
and the people are facing shortages of food and water."
Mahamud Hassan "Guled", senior public information assistant, WFP
Somalia, told IRIN: "We have no relief operations at the moment due to
the last FSAU [Food Security Assessment Unit/Food and Agriculture
Organization Somalia] assessment, which did not warrant any relief
programmes. WFP distributed 86 metric tones of food to 5,064 people in
the district four months ago before the FSAU assessment."
Salah Yusuf, the mayor of Dararweyne, said the nearest water point in
some areas was about 120-130km away, while most animals could only walk
about 60km a day.
Yusuf and Mire called for help, saying Dararweyne was the worst-affected
"We are calling on the government of Somaliland, as well as the
international community, to come to the aid of the people hit by the
drought in the districts of El-Afweyn, Gar-adag, Hulul and Dararweyne,"
the mayors said.
Yusuf said: "About 40 families [200 people] have moved to urban areas of
Dararweyne District after they lost all their animals and, last week, 20
people were hospitalized for diarrhea.
"The problem is not only lack of food and water but also some diseases
have erupted in the areas, such as malaria, flu and diarrhea."
Ahmed-Kayse Hussein Mohamed, a data collection officer with Candle
Light, a local NGO, said a team toured the remote areas of the affected
districts on 10 May and found hundreds of families who had moved out of
their home areas to the urban centre of El-Afweyn after losing all their
Mayor Nour said the local government was trucking water to some of the
affected areas in the district.
"We send eight to 10 water trucks daily to the remote areas of Erigavo,
particularly the areas to the southeast and southwest of the district,"
Local officials said if the rains - expected any time now - are delayed,
more pastoralists would lose their last remaining animals.
"We are worried that if the rains do not start in coming weeks, more
animals may die, and even if the rains start, we fear the animals may
not adapt well to the wet conditions because there is no pasture," Nour