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Analysis: Drought in Somali region hits hardest in Dawa zone, kills thousands of livestock, threaten a humanitarian crisis

The prolonged drought in the Somali region could be attributed to a below-average rainfall during this year’s rainy season.
Photo: WFP/Claire Nevill

By Bileh Jelan @Bileh Jelan & Dereje Gonfa @DerejeGonfa

Addis Abeba, November 29/2021 – Drought yet again hit the Somali Region and affected different woredas in the hardest hit Dawa zone, according to regional officials as well as residents. The crisis led to displacement and continues to threaten a humanitarian crisis.

Although many areas in the region are affected by the prolonged drought, the Dawa zone has been affected the most. Dawa zone borders and shares Moyale as an administrative center with the Borana zone of the Oromia regional state, another area affected badly by drought and is mostly inhabited by pastoral and agro-pastoral communities.

This prolonged drought could be attributed to a below-average rainfall during this year’s rainy season, which in turn damaged grazing lands and caused a shortage of water. People in the region lack access to safe drinking water, and are unable to meet their basic needs due to loss of livestock which remain a main source of income to many in the zone and region as a whole. 


“The situation is very bad down there, our community like that of the Borana is losing livestock.

Ali Abdi, a resident of Dawa zone

Addis Standard spoke to some residents of the zone, the likes of Faysal who lives near the zone’s administrative center Moyale (went by his first name only) who said, “We suffered a lot due the unavailability of water. I think we lost Three or Four of our cattle. How much my community lost, I am not sure but it is very bad that I had to relocate to an area where there is water. Even there, scarcity of water is becoming a very serious issue for us Somalis.” 

Ali Abdi, is another resident of the zone who shares Faysal’s experience. He recently moved to the regional capital Jigjiga. He told Addis Standard, “The situation is very bad down there, our community like that of the Borana is losing livestock.”  Ali explained that many opted to move to the big cities in both Oromia and Somali regions. 

A report published on November 01, 2021 in a collaboration between the zonal administration and aid agencies, said that 95% of all kebeles are being supported by water trucks due to the dry up of water sources, a total of 47,215 livestock perished and 62,960 people are in need of immediate assistance. 


“People are taking their children out of school and opting to leave for other areas.”
 

Moahmmed Ali, teacher

The problem however, does not stop there according to Mohammed Ali, a teacher who is now out of a job due to closure of the school he used to teach in. He said, “I know of a number of schools closed in the zone. People are taking their children out of school and opting to leave for other areas.” When asked if he knew of someone who died or heard of death because of the drought, he said, “I know of none but there must be some cases.” Ali and Faysal share the same sentiment and do not confirm any death nor deny occurrence. 

When asked about the regional government’s efforts to address the issue, Mohammed said, “I know they are trying but we need to address this problem seriously so it does not occur again,” he added, “A lot of people lost all they have.”

The region’s main opposition party has been speaking about the issue. The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) complained that the war in the northern part of the country is masking the tragedies happening in the region and  called on the Somali diaspora to assist. 

It said in a tweet on its official channel, “The drought in the Somali state has reached a critical stage. Thousands of livestock have perished and people are starting to starve,” adding, “Unfortunately, the war in the north is masking the dire situation facing the Somali people. We  call upon the Somalis in the diaspora to act.”

“Unfortunately, the war in the north is masking the dire situation facing the Somali people.”

Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)

Addis Standard tried to speak to the head of the Somali regional state disaster prevention and preparedness bureau but was unable to reach him and was referred to his deputy Sadiq Abdulkadir who put the number of people in need of immediate assistance at 83,000. The regional official added, “Currently we are supplying safe drinking water to the Dawa zone using trucks.” 

A recent report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) indicated that around 2.1 million people across 74 Woredas in the Somali region are in need of immediate assistance. AS

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