HotSpots H2O: Spotlight on Somalia

The Rundown

Cyclical drought has cursed Somalia for the past 25 years. The most recent dry spell began in 2016, and the country has endured four consecutive failed rainy seasons since then. Low rainfall is largely to blame for the drought, but ineffective governance and ongoing conflict have also played a role. Attacks carried out by Al-Shabaab, a militant group that controls large portions of the country, have killed and injured thousands of civilians in recent years. The drought and unrest have forced millions to relocate to IDP camps, or flee the country altogether. Not surprisingly, countless Somalis have limited access to water, sanitation, food, and shelter.

“Drought and conflict will continue to affect the lives of millions of Somalis. They will continue to displace thousands more. I request on behalf of the government and Somali people for continued support from international partners.” –Hassan Ali Khayre, Somalia’s Prime Minister, in reference to the country’s ongoing crisis. The United Nations recently appealed for $1.6 billion in aid for Somalia in 2018.

By The Numbers

4 Number of consecutive failed rainy seasons in Somalia. The country’s next rainy season traditionally falls between April and June.

6.2 million Number of people in Somalia in need of emergency food, water, and shelter, according to UN estimates.

4.4 million Number of Somalis in need of humanitarian Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) services. Seventy percent of these Somalis do not have enough water to meet their basic needs.

2.1 million Estimated number of IDPs in Somalia as of January 2018. 

155,000 Number of IDPs that have been forcibly evicted from camps each year since 2015, according to UNHCR estimates. In late December 2017, Somali security forces bulldozed several camps without warning, leaving more than 4,000 families homeless.

Science, Studies, And Reports

A Drought Impact and Needs Assessment was launched in January 2018 and details various impacts of Somalia’s ongoing drought. The report estimates drought-related damages to be $1.02 billion and losses to be $2.23 billion, for a total of $3.25 billion. Total recovery would cost an estimated $1.77 billion.

On The Radar

The regional climate outlook for the Greater Horn of Africa predicts that the northern and coastal parts of Somalia will receive near-average rainfall in the spring rainy season. In the rest of Somalia, “near normal or depressed rainfall” is likely, potentially prolonging the country’s devastating drought.

Even if drought lingers in Somalia, perhaps peace is on the horizon. From February 12-14, Somalia hosted its first-ever Peace and Reconciliation Colloquium. The event, which was attended by over thirty experts and researchers, generated a body of research describing how to prevent conflict and foster reconciliation in the war-torn country.

Resources and Further Reading

Failed rains leave Somalis fearful (Relief Web)
Half of drought-hit Somalia needs aid in 2018: U.N. (Reuters)
Increased likelihood of near to enhanced rainfall over much of the Greater Horn of Africa, regional climate outlook indicates (Relief Web)
Mapping the devastation of Somalia’s drought (UN Environment)
Somalia drought impact and needs assessment : synthesis report (The World Bank)
Somalia: First Peace and Reconciliation Colloquium Opens in Mogadishu (All Africa)
Somalia Humanitarian Situation Report (UNICEF)
Somalia: Satellite imagery reveals devastation amid forced evictions of thousands who fled conflict and drought (Amnesty International)

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Kayla Ritter

Kayla Ritter is a recent graduate of Michigan State University, where she studied International Relations and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. She is currently based in Manton, Michigan. Kayla enjoys running, writing, and traveling. Contact Kayla Ritter