On March 31, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia, Peter de Clercq launched a call for aid, seeking $105 million to provide life-saving assistance to nearly two million people affected by the severe drought in Somaliland and Puntland. Mr. de Clercq warned that we have reached a critical point, and the situation will only deteriorate if the rains continue to fail in the next months and if we fail to respond to the suffering now.
The drought has put a direct constrain on pastoral and agro-pastoral communities – approximately three-quarters of Somaliland and Puntland’s population. In some areas in the north, almost 90 per cent of crops have failed. Acute water and pasture shortages have weakened animals, making them more susceptible to disease. If communities continue to lose or sell productive assets such as livestock, they will lose the means to the support their children and themselves. Nearly 100,000 children under age 5 are acutely malnourished. Malnutrition-related deaths have been reported in some areas, such as Awdal region bordering Ethiopia.
Award-winning senior photographer, Sebastian Rich was recently in Somalia on assignment for UNICEF. You may find additional photography on his website at www.sebastianrichphotography.com.