Desperate water shortage in Somaliland

The self-declared republic of Somaliland has been gripped by a drought that has left thousands of families and their livestock in desperate need of water, officials say.



"The first thing people ask you is for water, because both the people and their animals [are] seriously weak and cannot reach water wells in the remote areas," Said Ahmed Du’alle Bullale, MP for Saraar region, told IRIN on 2 August.



The parliamentarian, who recently visited Saraar, Sool and Sanag regions, said many water wells had dried up. Those that still had water served very large populations.



"About 100,000 [people] from Togdheer, Sool and Sanaag regions were displaced by the recent drought and no one is supporting [them]," he added.



The worst-affected areas included the main Saraar plains between Sanaag and Togdheer and Ba’ade, between Sool and Sanaag.



"Most people have moved to places where some Gu’ [long] rains were received, such as the mountains of Sanaag near Erigavo and the southeast district of Togdheer," the MP said.



The mayor of Ainabo town, Khalif Ismail Saleban, said about 35,000 pastoralist families had moved from other regions in search of pasture for their livestock to areas between Qori-lugud and Buhootle, where some long rains had fallen.



This had increased the number of displaced people in the town, which is the capital of Saraar region. "We have more than 400 families who lost their animals in the drought," he told IRIN.



A local chief in Ainabo, Ibrahim Isse Hassan, said the drought had also cut the market value of livestock. The highest price for sheep, for example, was down to US$38 from $42 a few weeks ago, yet the price of rice was still $36.



On 22 June, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS Net) warned that the drought in Somalia's central region had extended north into the key pastoral areas of the Sool plateau, Nugal 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.



"Emergency assistance is required in order to prevent severe deterioration in food security," FEWS Net said. The situation had resulted from cumulative effects of four consecutive seasons of below-normal rainfall, it noted, adding that pasture and grazing conditions had deteriorated to an alarming degree.



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