By Yousef Timacade
Prices for food, essential services, and other commodities have recently skyrocketed due to a decline in market supply. The prolonged drought, which has ravaged the country from east to west and harmed livestock output and agriculture, is to reason for the decrease in market supply.
Following three consecutive failed rainy seasons, Somalis are suffering from one of the worst droughts in decades, resulting in mass displacement, widespread animal death, and an escalating food crisis. Drought conditions are anticipated to deteriorate as Somalis face a fourth straight failed rainy season, which could have grave consequences if the government and its foreign partners do not act quickly.
The impoverished, government employees, teachers, and troops all have poorer living standards, reducing their purchasing power. Local businesses that commonly transact in shillings have also suffered. Furthermore, continued inflation has considerably affected government revenue, spending, and total national economic growth. The situation has deteriorated since Russia’s Ukraine war, which has harmed not only Somaliland but also the Horn of Africa and other low-income countries. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has damaged the global economy, with food and oil costs rising. The war’s economic impact has also been said to have had a substantial impact on trade, commodity prices, and financial markets, resulting in widespread poverty and food insecurity among many people.
The economic impact on everyone’s life, particularly in Africa, is indirect yet significant. Africa, the continent with the most imports and the lowest production, has been affected the worst. According to the South African Chamber of Commerce’s Wandile Sihlobo, African countries imported $ 4 billion in food from Russia in 2020 alone, with wheat accounting for 90% of that amount.
Egypt, a major wheat importer, has seen wheat prices rise, while Kenya, an oil importer, has been heavily hit by the economic downturn. Wheat and oil prices in Somali territories have increased by more than 250 percent. Somaliland receives wheat flour from Egypt, which receives wheat from Ukraine and Russia. The drought in the region has aggravated the issue, making it more difficult for the impoverished to obtain food. Drought has a devastating effect on people, animals, and the environment as a whole. The frequency of drought in our territory is very high, according to the WASH cluster assessment study, with a drought occurring every three years in Somaliland.
The Women, led a series of protests in major cities such as Hargeisa, and most women are disproportionately affected because they are the breadwinners in the family. There are also many starving families in the rural areas, and if this trend continues, both children and adults will suffer from widespread malnutrition. However, the fundamental issue at hand is not only the crisis in Ukraine or the droughts, but also the government’s lack of preparedness for situations like this, as well as the absence of climate change mitigation, lack of environmental protection measures, and poor water management.
People have badly degraded the nation’s natural environment as a result of the government’s lax regulations and poverty. The environment in which people live and how they preserve it is one of the most significant parts of life. In general, Somalis have wreaked havoc on the environment, notably in Somaliland, as a consequence of meteorological conditions such as a lack of rainfall or an excess of heat.
Somaliland does not conform to international environmental law being an unrecognized entity by the international community, and hence lacks strict domesticated international legislation regulating environmental protection. The despair of rural life has intensified in recent years as a result of global warming, which is primarily determined by the nature of the climate, particularly the availability of rainfall. As a result of severe water shortages and dry pastures, livestock has been decimated, affecting the livelihoods of Somali pastoralist communities who have been displaced and fled to major cities and towns in search of food, water, and shelter, compounding the economic hardships of city residents who were already struggling with livelihood difficulties.
Another cause is the consumption of the stimulant leaf Kat. Kat is quite frequent in Somaliland, which has a negative socio-economic impact on many aspects of life, including domestic violence. The biggest difficulty for men is the amount of time they spend chewing Kat while neglecting family responsibilities, causing women to bear the bulk of the family’s responsibilities.
Before the overthrow of Somalia’s authoritarian regime and the outbreak of the civil war in 1991, women’s roles were mostly limited to domestic caregivers, while males assumed the role of breadwinners in their houses, covering both domestic and children’s school costs. When the majority of men died in the civil war, a significant proportion of women became breadwinners and assumed formerly patriarchal roles, and eating Kat became an analogous circumstance. Poverty and hardship persisted as a result of this role transition, driving many women to work as street vendors or domestic workers to support their families.
All of these tragic concerns have a significant impact on the situation in Somaliland, and people may confront a far worse position than they do now. As a result, these fear-mongering issues can be a good reason for society and government to find a long-term solution to the problem, but neither the people nor the government has any plans in place to prevent or respond to these hardships, preferring to act as if there is nothing to worry about, people are busy with tribalism, the president and its ruling party are busy with strategies to extend their term, and the opposition parties are busy with strategies to split the unity of the people.
Unfortunately, our country has suffered from severe tribalism hazards, as well as an economic, social, and political ruin. As a result, it is now vulnerable to the exploitative policies of politicians and business people who take advantage of these conditions because, instead of holding them accountable, the populace is divided and engaged in tribalism.
A delayed and suffering response plan will have slowed the route to recovery, and a sluggish and contentious plan process with minimal presidential leadership will prevent robust reactions to droughts, inflations, and their economic aftermath. As in the case of the Hargeisa Waheen market fire catastrophe, relief response plans were poorly developed and handled, and much of the money meant to bring relief was not properly delivered. Furthermore, the Somaliland National Disaster Preparedness and Food Reserve Authority’s plans were not designed for such an extensive crisis lasting over a year.
Despite the fact that Siyad Barre’s regime was known as a cruel dictatorship, the sympathetic differences between Siyad Barre’s regime and the current government of Somaliland and its political parties in terms of emergency response and response to the needs of the famine-stricken population vary greatly.
For instance, in 1975, a severe drought struck Somali territories, particularly Somaliland, and was described as the “longest drought” in the country, but President Barre’s government proclaimed a state of emergency. Students were given time off, while civil officials and military vehicles were dispatched to assist the drought-stricken communities. Strangely enough, political campaigns and rivalry continue in Somaliland and at expensive large-scale events despite the current challenging circumstances.
In conclusion, I would encourage Somaliland society to unite and reject the tribalism fostered by politicians in order to divide the society. People with similar interests can band together and demand that the government address their issues. People from the same tribe do not share the same interests, but those who live together and share the same residence or work environment do. As a result, it’s critical to establish cooperatives and unite your voices in order to make a collective claim for your rights.
Yousef Timacade is lawyer, legal analyst and commentator. He has a master’s degree in law and a master’s degree in executive management, and has been working with national and international non governmental organizations for the last ten years in the areas of program management, research, and human rights.