In focus

FAO raises alarm over disastrous drought in Somalia where over 2 million people face severe hunger

15 May 2019, Mogadishu/Rome - A disastrous drought in Somalia could leave some 2.2 million people - nearly 18 percent of the population - faced with severe hunger during the July-September period, FAO warned today. The UN agency issued a special alert on Somalia, indicating that the number of hungry people in the country this year is expected to be 40 percent higher than estimates made at the beginning of 2019. A deteriorating nutritional status is also of major concern, according to the alert. Acute malnutrition rates as well as the number of acutely malnourished children being admitted to therapeutic feeding centres have sharply increased in 2019. "Rains in April and early May can make or break Somalis' food security for the whole year as they are crucial for the country's main annual harvest in July, following the "Gu" rainy season," said Mario Zappacosta, FAO Senior Economist and lead of the Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).

Puntland President Launches the Construction of Information Management Center

20 March 2019: The President of Puntland State Hon. Said Abdullahi Deni inaugurated the site and laid a foundation stone for the construction of the Information Management Center (IMC) along with EU representative Mr Martino Vinci and FAO Deputy Country Representative Mr. Etienne Peterschmitt. The IMC center is intended to be a center with resources and capacity to provide timely and accurate information for the management of water and land resources in Puntland. The government of Puntland donated the Land on which the IMC center will be constructed as an in-kind contribution to the ILWRM Project, which is funded by EU and implemented by FAO SWALIM. The launch came a day after consultations involving the EU, FAO SWALIM and the line ministries.

Hydro-met Observations, Early warning and Climate Information Dissemination Training in Mogadishu

Since FAO SWALIM’s establishment in 2002, integrated capacity development has been an essential part of its activities, strengthening the capacity of its staff as well as the Somali institutions. To improve the value and quality of data from the hydro-metric networks in south and Central Somalia, a total of nine participants drawn from the Ministry of Agriculture of the Federal Republic of Somalia and SWALIM River gauge readers from key monitoring stations along Shabelle Rivers (Belet Weyne, Mahaday-wayne and Jowhar) participated in a training that took place in Mogadishu between 13th – 16th August 2018. The training aimed to improve the capacity of the gauge readers in carrying out the tasks of collecting, processing and transmitting precipitation, River water level data and other hydro-meteorological information from their respective stations.

Status of River Breakages Along Shabelle River, August 2018

Recurrent flooding along the Shabelle River in Southern Somalia has been one of the key challenges for agencies involved in community development in the area.

Temporal Analysis of Shabelle River Water-levels as Seen from Very High-resolution Satellite Images

The Shabelle River which is one of the two perennial rivers in Somalia has had some sections of the channel getting dry for the third time in three years. The first being February and March 2016, then February and March 2017 and finally some sections dried early December 2017 to Mid-March 2018. The Gu rains are expected to kick off in late March and early April within the basin and this will see a rise in river levels. While there are many reasons behind the drying river bed, the main driver to this could be attributed to consecutive failed rainy seasons both in the Ethiopian Highlands and inside Somalia.

SWALIM Maps Prosopis invaded areas in Somaliland

According to a study carried out by Candlelight in 2006, Prosopis was first introduced in Somalia in the early 1950 in the area west of Berbera by a British forester to combat desertification, dust storms and sand dune movement. Later, in the 1970s and 1980s, it was introduced in several areas of Somaliland to reduce environment degradation in the area. The inhabitants were destroying native trees for fuelwood and construction material. It was felt that Prosopis could growing fast compared to the slow growing native trees and therefore was a good substitute. Initially, Prosopis was confined in small areas around the refugee camps, but later spread to many parts of the country especially in the central part of Waqooyi Galbeed and Awdal Regions, mostly along waterways originating from Golis Mountain but also in creeks, agricultural farms, wetlands, coastal area along the Gulf of Aden from Lughaya to Berbera, as well as in Burco district.

Somalia remains in drought conditions following another failed rainy season

Somalia is in the second year of a severe drought—the kind that is increasingly likely as the climate warms. All the water dependent sectors have been adversely affected, reflecting different levels of drought preparedness in Somalia. For now, urban areas are in a better shape, thanks to diversified humanitarian aid in the country. The greatest vulnerabilities are in some low-income rural communities where water resources are running dry. Two years of drought has increased challenges in all areas and require continued—and likely increasingly difficult—adaptations. Emergency programs will need to be significantly expanded to get drinking water to rural residents and livestock. Somalia therefore needs to start a longer-term effort to build drought resilience in the most vulnerable areas.

Use of SWALIM's live map for water sources information access in drought response

Somalia has been experiencing one of the most severe drought conditions in the recent past, following consecutive seasons of failed rainfall across the country. Many parts of the country are experiencing acute water shortage and dramatic deterioration of food security. As a result, the humanitarian agencies have scaled up interventions since the beginning of the year to respond to the drought and prevent famine.

Drought Conditions Map April 2017

Many parts of the country remained generally dry throughout the month of March 2017 with extreme drought conditions spreading further to the larger parts of the country. The Gu rains  normally start in late March in the north western parts  of the country and by mid April in the rest of the country.

Somalia Drought Watch April 2017

Key highlights Drought conditions continued to worsen since November affecting more than 50% of the population. Pasture and water came to a complete depletion in most areas leaving about 440,000 in displacement as in 31 March 2017 (OCHA Situation Report 2). During the last half of March, moderate rains were received in the western side of Somaliland marking a possible start of the much waited Gu rains. The rains provided an immediate relief to water stress in such areas as Boroma and Gebiley in Awdal and Woqooyi Galbeed regions. Moderate to heavy rains were also observed in the Ethiopian highlands leading to an increase of river levels along the Juba and Shabelle rivers in Somalia. Since early hours of 3 April, both rivers recovered the average levels sharply (3.15m at Shabelle and 1.74m at Juba), which saves the crops that are at the brink of failure and increases the irrigation potential.