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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Open letter to the Somali people from the UN Humanitarian coordinator on the drought situation in Somalia

Feb. 24, 2011
I share the fears and concerns that many Somalis have expressed about the failure of the Deyr rains. The information that is currently available tells us that people in many parts of the country are already facing a water shortage, initially this affected livestock but there are also many communities facing shortages
of drinking water. The drought has brought with it a rise in food prices, restricted access to food as well as limited food stocks. The drought has also let to water shortages, and has led to a serious cycle of acute malnutrition which is worst in Middle and Lower Juba, Geddo, and Middle Shabelle areas. The current drought has led to the loss of livelihoods for many groups and pastoralist populations are particularly badly affected. Conditions for internally displaced people have become even harsher, particularly in areas where the provision of humanitarian assistance has been increasingly restricted.

We face a serious humanitarian crisis now but this will become even more serious if there is a future failure of the Gu rains in April. The humanitarian community responded immediately with resources and the small amount of emergency funds that are held centrally. At the early stage of the drought in January, we used our emergency funds to protect livelihoods to mitigate the immediate effects of the drought. Our main focus was to meet water needs to ensure that a strategic networks of boreholes could continue to function across Somalia, as well as to ensure clean drinking water in Mogadishu, Hiraan and Bay, Lower Shabelle, South Mudug and across Puntland. Agencies have used resources to scale up supplementary feeding and food distribution to meet increasing needs in the areas that were accessible.

As the drought progresses, the United Nations have allocated a further US$60 Million USD. Part of this will be used to make rapid funding available to meet the immediate needs of people displaced by drought. The largest share of these funds will be used to address increasing access to food and find means of meeting the rapidly growing gap in food availability. The common UN funds will be allocated on the basis of need and we have therefore allocated resources in proportion to the number of people assessed as drought affected by area.

As we begin to address the consequences of drought, it has become apparent that one of the most critical challenges facing humanitarian organisations remains that of ensuring that drought affected populations in south Somalia have access to the food assistance that they need. Without proper access to food, rates of malnutrition will rise and children will suffer needlessly. Once again, I urge all parties to Somalia’s conflicts to enable vulnerable communities to access the assistance that they now need.

The deepening drought and the strong probability that the Gu rains will be less than sufficient requires a collective effort by all parties in Somalia to respond to the needs of the Somali people and to support efforts to increase access. At this critical time, even with the generosity of donors, we cannot count on international assistance alone to bring Somalia through this crisis. The support and the engagement of all Somali people is critical if we are to prevent the drought from damaging the lives and the future of the hundreds of thousands of people currently affected.


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