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Recurrent Drought in the Horn of Africa Region and the need to come up with sustainable Solutions

By Hussien Mohamed Yusuf

Drought is a deficiency in precipitation over an extended period, usually a season or more, resulting in a water shortage causing adverse impacts on vegetation, animals, and/or people. It is a normal, recurrent feature of climate that occurs in virtually all climate zones, from very wet to very dry.

5 million people affected by drought in Somalia

Drought is not like other natural hazards. Although droughts are normal, recurring features in virtually all climatic zones, the effects of droughts often accumulate slowly over a long period and may linger for years afterwards. And unlike earthquakes, floods or hurricanes, the impact can be felt in large areas and by large numbers of people. Unlike in most other situations of natural disasters, relief operations responding to droughts will be large-scale and long-term.

The Horn of Africa region was hit by a severe drought that has resulted the loss of human lives and death of more livestock. The drought has badly affected the pastoralist communities who has lost their livestock in flocks.

Drought is recurrent and copping strategies to it is not systematic and well designed. Whenever drought happens it is common thing to see appeals by Governments in the horn, but what is missing is the lack of coherent and well planned strategy to deal with the drought through research and sustainable solutions.

Thanks to all Somalis around the globe, the support and generous donations has saved the lives of many people affected by the drought in which different food, medical and shelter facilities were provided to the needy people. After the emergency lifesaving operation, there needs to be a well-planned drought recovery strategy for both the pastoral and agro-pastoral communities affected by the drought.

Revisiting the fire-fighter approach of dealing with the drought needs to be revised through the use of experts in the areas of drought recovery and rehabilitation. Fire fighters have no exact long term plan in place but rush to any place where a fire erupts to extinguish and the case of dealing with the current drought seems to be similar with that of the fire fighters.

Most of the pastoralists hit by the drought lost their livestock and the agro-pastoral communities are now unable to cultivate farms because either they have lost their oxen to the drought or the oxen left are too weak to be used for the cultivation of farms.

The Culmination of all the above factors necessitate the need to rethink on  how  deal with the drought which needs proper planning for proper targeting and rehabilitation of the drought hit communities in the region.

Wider community consultations and further discussions with Humanitarian international organizations on drought recovery mechanisms is very vital for a long term sustainable solution to the problem and proper usage of the resources in hand.

All Non-governmental organization and Governments in the horn need to design a strategy to start restocking pastoral communities hit by the drought with the consultation of traditional leaders, in identifying the poorest of the poor and female headed households. This action will keep pastoralists in their original sites and will also reduce burden on the already diminishing and deteriorating environment in which they have escaped to save their remaining herds. The second other important option is to hire tractors and assist the poorer agro-pastoral lists in cultivating their farms in this plantation season

The recurrent droughts in the Somali inhibiting regions of the horn is mostly attributed to shortage of rainfall, but there are other major factors caused by the bad management practices in both crop production and rangelands Management.

It is very apparent that communities affected by the drought always play their bigger share in the degradation and deterioration of the natural ecosystem. There are visible traits of Soil erosion as soon as rains start for there are no coherent and coordinated environmental protection practices from both pastoral and agro-pastoral communities in those areas affected by the drought.

The issue of Natural Resources Management and rangelands rehabilitation should also be part of the drought recovery process where International organizations working in the region and local community based organizations are expected to play their role in carrying out such activities.

It is also important that long term resilience building policies put in place. Governments need to design strategies which will address the major issues related with establishing sustainable water facilities, which is seen to be the major factor of the recurrent drought among others.

Hussien Mohamed Yusuf
Email: [email protected]

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