Parts of Somalia hit by the driest season in 40 years as climate-fueled drought worsens

Africa, Campaigns and Advocacy, Climate Change, Emergencies, Foreign aid, Media Releases, News article written on the 14 Dec 2021

Nearly 90% of the country faces severe water shortages leaving 3.5 million people in extreme hunger 

Nearly 90% of Somalia is now in a severe drought, following three consecutive failed rain seasons. Some areas are facing their driest season in 40 years and nearly 3.5 million people are already acutely food insecure. Millions more are now at risk of going hungry by the beginning of next year.

With no respite in sight, pastoralists’ chance for planting next season’s crops or finding grazing land for livestock is vanishing.

“People in Jubaland in the South, Gedo, Mudug, Nuugal, Bari, Toghdheer and Sool have been the hardest hit. Some have already experienced intense drought for more than a year and have had to watch their livestock, crops and savings perish in front of their eyes. They urgently need lifesaving water, food and cash,” said Amjad Ali, Oxfam Country Director in Somalia.

Many farmers and pastoralists have told Oxfam harrowing stories of how the drought has devastated their lives. Maryan Abdulaahi, a woman farmer living at the outskirt of Dudumaale village said:

“We did not receive rain for two seasons. Our livestock and own lives are in danger. In Dudumaale we use to fetch water from berkeds [traditional Somali water cisterns], but all berkeds are empty right now. The drum of water costs $4 which we cannot afford.”

Most natural water sources have dried up, pushing up the price of potable water. The price of a 200-litre water drum jumped above the five-year average by 45% in Gaalkacyo, Mudug Region, 70% in Jilib, Middle at Juba Region, and 172% in Garowe, Nugaal Region, last October.

Persistent climate-fueled drought, compounded by ongoing conflict, locusts, and COVID-19, has fueled hunger in Somalia and will leave 7.7 million people – nearly half the population – in urgent need of humanitarian assistance by 2022. This is a 30% rise since 2021. Somalia already ranks highest in the Global Hunger Index with over half its population suffering from extremely alarming levels of hunger and malnutrition.

Khadra Yusuf Saleban, a 48-year-old displaced woman from Bali-docol camp said: “I have many fears about [having no] water and food for my children and my parents. Our livestock is the backbone of our life. I lost it all in the last drought. Without water and food there will be death to our livestock and to our families, particularly children and elderly.”

Oxfam and partners have already reached nearly 185,000 of the most vulnerable people across the country, with clean water and sanitation, food and rehabilitation programs.

Aydrus Daar, Executive Director of WASDA, one of Oxfam’s local partner organisations, said: “I have been involved in droughts since 1991 and I have never seen a drought that has impacted people as badly as has this one. Many pastoralists have lost 100% of their livestock. This has never occurred in living history. Our biggest concern is an imminent famine.”

“In the 2011 drought crisis an estimated 50,000–100,000 people lost their lives. Despite the warnings, the international humanitarian system did too little too late. We must make sure that history does not repeat itself. We must act now. More than a third of the humanitarian appeal for Somalia this year is unfunded,” said Amjad Ali, Country Director of Oxfam in Somalia.

To help prevent a worsening catastrophe, Oxfam and partners aim to double the number of people reached, providing the most vulnerable in South Central Somalia, Somaliland, and Puntland, with lifesaving water, food and cash in the next six months. Oxfam also aims to help communities rebuild their lives and adapt to the cyclical expected climate disasters.

Oxfam urgently needs $15 million to help boost its humanitarian response in Somalia and save lives.

For interviews or inquiries contact Jackie Hanafie on 03 9005 7353 or