Deepening drought in central Somalia alarms UN aid agencies

29 February 2008 –

United Nations humanitarian agencies and their partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are stepping up their support in central Somalia, where the drought has worsened, leaving many rural families destitute as water shortages become severe and grazing for livestock becomes increasingly limited.

Most traditional water catchments are either dry or drying up, which is placing extra pressure on the few functioning boreholes, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported today.

Mudug and Galguduud administrative regions are the hardest hit by the ongoing long dry season, and OCHA said relief assistance will be needed at least until the next harvest, expected in July-August.

The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and its NGO partners are providing water tankers, constructing shallow wells and installing water pipes in Galguduud, as well as supporting 12 maternal health centres and four other health posts serving more than 20,000 young children.

The security and humanitarian situation inside the town of Dhuusamarreeb, the capital of Galguduud, is worrying UN staff following the arrival of Ethiopian troops last Friday. Field reports indicate that two-thirds of the town’s residents have fled, fearing a confrontation between the Ethiopian troops and anti-government groups.

In the Bay administrative region, the World Food Programme (WFP) has had to suspend an ongoing food distribution scheme because of the heavy fighting taking place in Dinsor town.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) also reported that another 700 people inside the national capital, Mogadishu, were displaced by fighting this week, bringing the total this year to 51,000.


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