Drought continues to cause misery in southern Somalia's Gedo regionPhoto | Displaced people without shelter in Gedo/Axmed Saalixi/Ergo
(ERGO) - The drought is continuing to cause misery in parts of Somalia. One place that is particularly badly affected is Gedo region, which borders Ethiopia and Kenya and falls under the Jubaland State’s authority. The deputy interior minister of Jubaland State and coordinator of the state’s drought response committee, Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein, told Radio Ergo that the ongoing drought has left 120,000 people without any means of livelihood. It has also left thousands more people displaced from their homes and living in very poor conditions. The deputy minister described to Radio Ergo’s local correspondent the serious concerns, especially for people in Gedo. Key sections of the interview are transcribed below.
Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein: Pastoralist families overall have lost 60 per cent of their livestock. There is misery among those left destitute. Whilst parts of Middle and Lower Juba regions received rain and people are doing fairly well, Gedo region is the worst affected in Jubaland administration. Parts of Yurkut and El-waq districts in Gedo are struggling. There are also scores of drought-hit nomadic Somali families from Ethiopia pouring into Luq and parts of Beled-Hawo.
Between 9-12 August, around 1,300 displaced people flocked around the river banks in Dollow. They are not in a good situation, the state government has given them food aid, and humanitarian agencies are also working hard to reach them but it is extremely difficult to cover all their needs. There are food supplies in Kismayo port delivered by Turkey and the World Food Programme and stocks of dates from Gulf countries. Jubaland government is working on ways of delivering the food aid to destitute families.
Radio Ergo: Why is Gedo so badly hit by the drought?
Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein: Weather experts talk about climate change and global warming, but we are Muslims and we believe it is happening in accordance with Allah’s will. Deforestation has been prolific and people are using the trees to make charcoal - this a major factor that leads to drought. There is also a general problem in the country and Allah said (be merciful to one another and I will be merciful to you). Wars and conflicts as well as hatred among the people are also major contributors to the general problems according to our religion. So I can say this is a situation that only God can mitigate, there is no one else who can change it.
Radio Ergo: You have visited parts of Gedo region, where the drought has been devastating, what did you see?
Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein: We have seen displaced families in absolute poverty. In Luq district there are displaced people from Bay and other parts of Gedo, while in Dollow there are people from Ethiopia. Beled-Hawo hosts displaced people from the rural areas and from Ceel-waq, Garbaharay and Bardera. As we ventured further into the rural areas, the situation became worse. The northern part of Gedo is particularly devastated including Garbaharey, Beled-Hawo, Luq, El-boon and Dollow. Milk-producing animals have been moved neighbouring regions and those left cannot be sold.
Radio Ergo: Do you have any statistics on people dying from starvation or thirst in Jubaland?
Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein: Yes, in the months before the rains there were drought-related deaths. There have also been disease outbreaks that wiped out many more. We had a high number of cholera deaths in Luq, Garbaharrey, Bardera and Dollow. In a drought, people resort to drinking dirty water so sickness and deaths are inevitable. People also died in Geriley, Fafah-dun and El-waq. In El-waq we heard of six people dying of thirst. In Luq, diarrhoea killed 80 people that we know of, although other sources says the toll was higher.
Radio Ergo: There are complaints from Gedo that not enough has been done to avert this disaster. How do you respond?
Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein: There might be criticisms but the national drought committee has done a lot. When we received funding [from the committee], much of it went to Gedo region. We are working hard, the other main is that food is stored in Mogadishu and Kismayo and road accessibility is a big obstacle in delivering it.
Radio Ergo: The rainy season is over and the drought is set to continue to be a major issue, so what are your plans for the displaced people in squalid camps?
Abdirahman Mohamed Hussein: There are food supplies for the drought-affected people stored in Kismayo port. The government is still working to ensure this food is delivered in time. We are determined to reach Gedo region with food aid. We will also ensure we give them the remaining cash. So we are prepared to do everything within our capacity to avert problems. We will ensure we work with these people directly and indirectly.
Warbixinno la xiriira