9 April 2003

Somalia: Somaliland Warns of Water And Food Shortages

Nairobi — Almost all parts of the self-declared republic of Somaliland are facing serious water and food shortages, according to its minister of pastoral development and environment, Muhammad Muse Awale.

The problem is most acute in the eastern regions of Togdheer, Sanaag and the Hawd. "We had very little rain in the Gu season [April-June] and we have had even smaller Deyr rains [October-November] so far," he told IRIN on Wednesday.

Awale, who heads the newly created inter-ministerial Committee for National Disaster Preparedness and Mitigation, warned that if there were no rains in the next two to three weeks, "we will have a disaster on our hands".

The livelihood of most of the population of Somaliland, like the rest of Somalia, revolves around livestock, and "livestock has already started dying", he said.

He added that the Somaliland administration was calling on the international community to assist before the situation turned into a catastrophe.

Trucking water to the most affected areas should be a priority, Awale said. Water points which had fallen into disrepair needed to be rehabilitated quickly, while those still functioning needed pumps to enable them operate, he stressed.

Awale also said that food distribution in the most seriously-affected areas should be undertaken "as a matter of urgency".

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