Somalia: Drought Prompts ADRA to Distribute Water to Affected Communities

SILVER SPRING, Md. – As drought threatens millions of Somalis and their livestock once more, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is delivering water to vulnerable villages in the northeastern Puntland state, the agency reports.

ADRA’s two-month water trucking intervention will provide safe drinking water to more than 1,290 households, or 7,700 people, in seven villages in Puntland’s Nugaal region, giving priority to infants, children, women and the elderly. This response is intended as a life saving measure to prevent deaths from dehydration, reduce the risk of water-related diseases, and provide for minimal cooking and personal hygiene. Prior to ADRA’s involvement, residents of some villages were forced to travel up to 54 miles (100 km) to the nearest borehole to find clean water.

The current drought has turned the humanitarian situation precarious, and the resilience of the local populations remains highly threatened, according to ADRA Somalia. Although the latest drought is affecting most of Somalia, ADRA is targeting Nugaal, a small administrative region and one of the worst affected.

This emergency project follows a recent appeal by the president of the self-declared autonomous Puntland state to all humanitarian aid agencies to make efforts to address the drought emergency. In Puntland alone, an estimated 211,000 people are seriously affected and require urgent humanitarian assistance. However, the number of drought victims is expected to increase considerably over the next three months, as the seasonal Gu rains are not expected until late April or early May.

The current drought, which is likely to force many more Somalis from their homes, adding to the 1.4 million people already displaced in the country, is being blamed on poor year-end Deyr seasonal rains that have forced water prices up by more than 300-400 percent, according to an assessment carried out by Puntland’s Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA). In many areas water availability is scarce and most water sources, including catchments, dams, some wells, and mobile water tanks called berkeds have dried up.

Somalia is no stranger to extreme climate patterns, most of which have had devastating repercussions on the mostly rural population. The recent failed seasonal rains seriously diminished water supplies, decreasing grazing land and livestock, and significantly reducing crop production.

Areas less affected by the current drought have already experienced high human and livestock migration resulting in overpopulation, overgrazing, and an escalation of conflicts over limited resources.

Funders for this emergency response include ADRA International, the ADRA Africa regional office in Kenya, and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in East Africa.