A rapidly worsening drought is putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk in Somalia and Somaliland.
Halima is a 40-year-old mother living with 8 other family members in a camp for displaced people. She says: "In this IDP [internally displaced people] camp, there are poor people and disabled people such as blind people; we have sick people and very weak people. We are urgently requesting the humanitarian agencies to assist us with whatever they can."
The situation in Somalia is being driven by climate change, conflict, and the coronavirus pandemic which together have created a multi-layered humanitarian crisis. The current severe drought is only making things worse – and women and girls are being hardest hit.
CARE Somalia/Somaliland Country Director Iman Abdullahi says:
"The humanitarian situation in the country is dire as dry conditions have escalated to a drought. Villages have completely run out of water and are now relying on humanitarian agencies to support through water trucking which is not adequate to meet the need. Our teams on the ground have witnessed communities drinking contaminated water putting them at risk of waterborne diseases. Some parents have told us that they have already started to go for a whole day without drinking any water as they are choosing to give the little water available to the children.
Women in Somalia and Somaliland have been disproportionately affected by the current humanitarian situation. With many families struggling to put food on the table, many girls have been forced out of school as the families cannot afford to pay school fees. We fear that more girls will be married off early as families look for ways to cope with the current harsh economic conditions. As more water points dry up, women and girls are forced to walk long distances to get water, putting them at risk."
How is CARE responding to the crisis?
CARE is supporting communities with water and disbursing cash to assist with immediate food needs. CARE is also providing primary health services, feeding programs for infants and children, and treatment for those with moderate and severe acute malnutrition. Sexual and gender-based violence has also increased during the pandemic and CARE is also supporting survivors with clinical and psychosocial support.
But the need is much greater than we can meet – especially coming at a time when the UK government is cutting humanitarian aid funding by £500 million. The UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has said that cuts to humanitarian aid funding reflect a “strategic shift” in UK aid spending. The UK government has also said East Africa is a strategic priority – and yet aid is being reduced by 60% at a time of crisis.
Iman Abdullahi says:
We urge donors to increase funding so we can implement a rapid and robust response to these multiple crises. We have the ability to avert a potential humanitarian catastrophe, and we can’t do it alone. We call upon the global community not to ignore the looming crisis here, and to donate or support in other ways so we can save lives."