NAIROBI, 17 August 2009 (SomalilandPress) – Some rains have fallen in northern Somalia, but this has not stopped an exodus of drought-affected people from rural areas to urban centres in Somaliland, local officials said.

“We know that hundreds of thousands have [been] displaced to urban centres,” said Abdihakim Garaad Mohamoud, Deputy Minister at the Somaliland Ministry of Resettlement, Reintegration and Rehabilitation.

“Every city in Somaliland has a huge number of displaced people because of the recent drought,” he added. “It has affected 60 percent of the rural population, whether they are pastoralists or agro-pastoralists. From east to west, south to north, every place in Somaliland has been affected.”

Across towns in the self-declared republic, such as Burao, Berbera, Erigavo, Las’anod and Badhan, temporary shelters have sprouted as rural dwellers arrive from the countryside.

“The government has planned to deal with the problem, but our capacity is limited,” Mohamoud told IRIN in Hargeisa. “Sixty percent of animals have been lost. One [man] who had 200 sheep has lost 110-120, and one who had 20 camels lost half.”

The governor of Togdheer region, Jama Abdillahi Warsame, said his government, with local NGOS, was trucking water to 78 villages.

“We estimate [that] more than 8,000 people moved to Burao [the main livestock market town] from rural areas,” he told IRIN.

He named the most vulnerable districts in Togdheer region as Hod, Ina Afmadobe, War-Imran, Ilka-Cadays, Bali-Hiile, Suryo, Lebi-Guun, Adow Yurura, Isku Dhoon, in Burou and Qoryale, as well as Qori Dheere in Ainabo districts of Sool region.

Late rains

The deputy minister said some rains had started in most of Somaliland, but the emergency was continuing. Prices of food, for example, had remained high.

“Some rain has started, but animals and people are so weak and [may not be] able to survive the wet situation,” he added. “We are calling on the international community to help the drought-affected people.”

Business people in the port city of Berbera said sugar prices had increased by about 70 percent in the past few weeks.

Mohamed Ahmed Imbir, owner of a food store in Berbera, told IRIN: “We were selling one sack of sugar at US$28, but now we are selling for $34.” He did not know why prices had risen.

On 22 June, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) warned that the drought in Somalia’s central region had extended northwards into the key pastoral areas of the Sool plateau, Nugaal valley, and Hawd livelihood zones.

The situation threatened more than 700,000 pastoralists and a significant number of urban households, whose income and food sources are strongly linked to livestock marketing and trade.

Source: IRIN, August 17, 2009