Somalia: ICRC assisting 240,000 people affected by severe drought

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GENEVA, Switzerland, Mareeg.com –At a time of increasing concerns about severe drought and potential famine in Somalia, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) are currently distributing food to 140,000 drought-affected people. In the coming days 100,000 more people will receive cash and other essential items.
While droughts are cyclical in Somalia, this year’s conditions are exacerbated by failed rains last year. Drought conditions are now devastating communities dependent on livestock and agriculture.
“I simply have no words for this drought. The people are sick. The children have diarrhoea,” said Sared Haji Jaama, a mother living in a displacement camp in Godqaboobe village.
The food distribution, which began this week, is taking place in 114 villages in Ceel Buur, Mataban, Sool, Sanaag, Nugal, Hiran and Bari regions – areas hard hit by drought that are also prone to conflict, making them difficult to access. Among the recipients are 85,000 extremely vulnerable internally displaced people who will also receive sleeping mats, kitchen utensils, tarps and hygiene parcels.
The food will last one month and will be supplemented with cash grants in March to see the families into the next rainy season (Gu rains) expected between April and May. With drought conditions being felt across the country, more distributions are planned for southern and central Somalia. In the coming days the ICRC will distribute assistance for 100,000 more people in the districts of Mataban (Hiraan), Luuq and Bardhere (Gedo), and Badhadhe and Kismayo (Lower Juba).
“This food will provide temporary relief to families who are suffering and have few options left,” said Jordi Raich, the head of ICRC’s Somalia operations. “But the situation is far from over and we are expanding our emergency response to other parts of the country. This is only the first phase of ICRC’s and SRCS’s emergency response to a dire and worrying situation in Somalia.”
To help communities access whatever water is available, the ICRC is repairing boreholes and providing water troughs for animals. Hygiene promotion activities will prevent and assist with possible drought-related epidemics. Finally, nutritional programs are being strengthened in SRCS clinics and ICRC-supported nutritional stabilisation centres in hospitals in Kismayo and Baidoa.

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Mareeg senior news editor since 2001 and he can be reached at news@mareeg.com