CLIMATE CRISIS HEAVILY IMPACTING ON LIVELIHOODS IN SOMALIA

Thursday 27 February 2020

CLIMATE CRISIS HEAVILY IMPACTING ON LIVELIHOODS IN SOMALIA 

Seven out of the last eight rainy seasons since late 2015 have been poor or failed across the Horn of Africa (HoA). There were years with little rain in the old days too, but less often, and supplies did not run short.

These days, the ocean is warmer and global weather systems are changing. Somalia is experiencing a climate crisis. Despite heavy rains and floods in some parts of the country, drought continue to heavily impact on lives and livelihoods of Somalis across the country.

The soil is eroding and becoming less fertile. Animals are dying. Children are not receiving enough food and families are being displaced to the nearest towns and villages.

Throughout 2019, Save the Children has been distributing food and other emergency supplies, at the same time supporting long term construction and repair of public facilities such as boreholes, health centres as well as ensuring affected children are kept safe and continue to learn.

LIFE SAVING FOOD

The supply truck roles into the village, loaded with rice, cow peas, wheat and yellow cans of food oil.

In 350 villages all over Somalia, Save the Children has been filling food chambers and water tanks with basic food for to meet the food needs of the most vulnerable families. That means meals for approximately 350.000 people through the whole year.

There are no public welfare or social protection systems in place.  Most people get by with the help of their family and relatives, neighbours and any loans they can get from the local shop keepers.

In Puntland, father of four Ahmed* is amongst those struggling to make ends meet. On this day he registers in the village hall with his e-voucher and then makes his way over to the food bags that have arrived. He puts his bags on a wheel barrow and pushes the heavy weight home.

“Life is hard right now. It worries me that I don’t have anything to offer the children. I have lost everything.” Ahmed

- A lot has changed and the only way we can survive is on emergency supplies and the support we receive from relatives and others in the village, he says.

He was forced to leave the remote pastures where we lived with his wife and four sons when all his livestock died due to the drought in 2017. In the beginning they lived in a shack in the villages. Now the neighbours helped to build a one room house.

- However, the situation has become harder. If I am to buy something in the shops the price of food has gone up. I do not know how to pay my bills or make down payments on the loans from the local shop keepers.

- What do you believe is the reason for the drought?

- The change in climate is definitely the reason. When I was a young boy, I could see woods. Now all the trees are gone and all that is left is desert. People are not capable of doing things in a way to keep the environment sustainable.

- When you were younger, did you have many concerns for the future?

- No, no, no worries. I had my family, goats and many animals. But now I have lost everything. I did not have those concerns that I have today.

- What thoughts do you have on your children’s future?

- I am seriously concerned about their future, especially the two boys with disabilities. I cannot take them to the hospital in Garowe, let alone Mogadishu or abroad.

- It worries me that I have nothing to offer them. I have lost everything.

- Our worst fears are being confirmed with a million children once again set to suffer through the degrading, miserable impacts of drought. Families have simply not had enough time to recover from the prolonged drought of 2017, where their herds died in masse and thousands of people were forced to move to camps to access food and water, said Muhamed Abdulkadir, Save the Children Area Representative in Puntland.

- What really concerns us is the frequency of these droughts. Pastoralist communities – families who depend on livestock for their income – need on average two seasons of good rains to recover from one poor season. The frequency and severity of drought in Somalia is unprecedented, and now even the hardiest of families are saying they give up in the face of this climate crisis.

- We need more support, now, to scale up humanitarian interventions and allow people to survive long enough to be able to adapt for the future,” said Abdulkadir.

Young children are most vulnerable

- More than one million children in Somalia under the age of five face acute malnutrition unless the international community drastically steps up funding for life-saving interventions, he says.

At a hospital supported by Save the Children in the city of Gardo, two mothers are referred with their malnourished babies.

- My baby was sick and had a fever. She would not take breast milk, a young mother says. The baby weighed half of what is normal child her age would weigh, but after treatment the weight had gone up again.

- Now I am calm. I am happy to be here, the young mother says.

- Normally when we see cases of malnourishment, we receive them through the hospital processes. Either they are examined by a doctor when they come to the hospital and they are transferred from the consultation room to the stabilization center. We also have mobile health and nutrition teams who usually work in the IDP camps here and they refer malnutrition cases to the hospital, Fatima, the nurse, says.

The statistics tell us that there are fewer referrals at the moment than in the summer. Numbers are expected to increase again in the autumn.

 “Somalia needs plans for recovery and resilience building” says bdullahi Ahmed, director at HADMA

- The situation is very critical. If we don’t get some help and investment to survive, and make projects that can produce the preparedness that we need, the situation always will be worsened, says director of HADMA, Abdullahi Ahmed.

- Of course, we need the relief to survive, to save lives. But what tomorrow? Today you saved me, but what tomorrow? Are you going to help me always and give me relief? No. It’s also better to have the plan for recovery, we need the recovery programs. We also need resiliency programs.

- Because saving the lives of livestock in this area means saving the lives of humans, he says.