Water projects helping Somaliland in lean times
Caritas launched an emergency appeal for US$ 413,216 (275,123 euro) for Somaliland in April as the current food crisis was getting under way. Caritas Switzerland has been running the programmes set up thanks to the appeal money. Nura Magan, country representative for Caritas Switzerland gives an overview of how the crisis is affecting Somaliland and what Caritas is doing.
"Cattle, goats and sheep herds were dying in large numbers with their carcasses lying around main roads and grazing lands. Both people and livestock have been looking emaciated and sick..." says Nura Magan, country representation for Caritas Switzerland
1. How badly has Somaliland been affected by the current food crisis?
There have been serious food scarcity issues mainly in rural areas and camps for displaced people in major cities over the past 10 months. Cattle, goats and sheep herds were dying in large numbers with their carcasses lying around main roads and grazing lands. Both people and livestock have been looking emaciated and sick, with increased chest infections and malnutrition. Many people in rural areas have been migrating.
2. What do you think caused the current food crisis?
There are a combination of causes. Climate change and a lack of investment in farming are the main ones. Re-current and almost chronic droughts, both natural and man-made, but which are mainly a result of cutting down trees for charcoal contribute. Also, soil and gully erosion, flooding and the inability of grazing and farming land to retain water as well as water scarcity in general are the main causes of the reduced pasture and fodder availability which lead to livestock losses.
3. Had Somaliland recovered from the previous 2005 food crisis when this new one started?
Yes, there was gradual recovery due to good rains received in 2006 and quick humanitarian support from the international community.
4. Caritas launched an emergency appeal in April. How is this helping people cope with the current crisis?
Caritas has been focused on rehabilitating water storage facilities, deepening and rehabilitating wells to increase water yield and distributing water pumps to farmers affected by floods. Caritas has constructed over 42 berkads (water cisterns) with one large berkad of over 400 m³ storage capacity at Lo’ka aroor in Gebilay district. During the handover ceremony the owner of the berkad, Mr. Ali Mohamed, said, “Now that I have such a big berkad, I do not envisage the possibility of losing income from farming or livestock products due to drought or scarcity of water as I will use water available to irrigate my farm to grow both fodder crops and vegetables”.
Caritas Switzerland and Caritas Luxemburg cover two out of the six regions in Somaliland, and expansion of programmes if funds permit would help contribute much more.
5. What else does Caritas do to reduce the effects of the food crisis on communities?
Caritas also runs awareness campaigns on good hygiene and sanitation practices to reduce the negative effects of waterborne diseases due to water scarcity.
6. What are the long term effects on communities of food scarcity in Somaliland?
Large scale dependency on importing food and other essentials, reduced levels of investment in farming and livestock production, reduced household income and a gradual loss of purchasing power. These factors lead to increased emigration to Western Europe as people from Somaliland look for jobs.
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