Somalia, UN help pastoralists cope with droughts, floods

Somalia and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) have launched a new 10 million US dollar climate adaptation project to help rural communities secure access to diminishing water supplies.

The four-year project will establish Somalia’s first National Hydro-Meteorological and Monitoring Service, install automatic weather stations and monitoring equipment across the country, and expand existing flood and drought forecasting and early warning systems.

“Under this new project, we will put in place the foundations for Somalia and its people to manage their precious water,” deputy prime minister Mahdi Mohammed Gulaid said in a statement issued Tuesday evening.

“This includes reforming national policies and systems; building knowledge and skills at the national, state and community level; and expanding climate-monitoring infrastructure and early-warning systems,” he said.

“With the onset of climate change, our country is facing more frequent droughts and floods. Those living in rural regions are particularly vulnerable,” Gulaid said.

Every two to five years, the Horn of Africa nation experiences major climate-induced shocks such as flooding, cyclones and particularly drought.

These, according to the UN, have contributed to the displacement of 2.6 million people across Somalia and increased competition for water and land to support animals and crops.

 More than 360,000 farmers and pastoralists are set to benefit from sustainable water management, expanded drought and flood early-warning systems and more profitable livelihoods, according to the government.

The United Nations (UN) says the effect of climate change in reducing already scarce water resources is expected to exacerbate conflict within communities.

It said illegal armed groups, such as al-Shabab, have already targeted young people for recruitment, particularly in rural regions beset by drought-induced food insecurity and widespread unemployment.

UNDP Resident Representative Jocelyn Mason said access to clean water saves lives directly, but is also closely linked to food security, livelihoods, poverty reduction, gender equality and, in Somalia’s case, peace and security.

“Given increasing water scarcity in Somalia, the choice as to how each drop should be allocated and managed is critical,” Mason said.

According to the UN, pastoralists are particularly vulnerable to changes in climate because they rely on rain-fed rangeland for grazing livestock and have very few fixed assets. -Xinhua

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