Somalia: Somaliland's Quest to Defuse a Climate Timebomb

When Hawo Mohamed woke one morning to find about a dozen of her goats dead, she knew her life as a herder was coming to an end.

Raised in a remote village in coastal Somaliland, in northeast Africa, Mohamed remembers taking her family’s goats to feed on green pasture flanked by a sprinkling of trees.

however in time the trees began to die, she said, in addition to then, about eight years ago, seasonal rains grew much more erratic, seemingly worsening each year.

Little by little, her animals, starved of enough forage in addition to water, grew weaker too.

“One day I went to collect the animals as usual in addition to brought them home however the next morning 10 to 12 of them were dead,” Mohamed recalled, sitting inside sand nursing her newborn son outside a corrugated iron shelter inside coastal city of Berbera.

“When only a few of our animals were left, I saw my neighbours had already started off to move in addition to I went with them  … I knew nothing would certainly be the same again.”

Mohamed, 32, her husband Ahmed Ali, in addition to their four children This particular year joined an estimated 0,000 people in Somaliland who have fled rural villages to seek brand new lives in cities, unable to cope after years of drought decimated their livestock in addition to crops.

Somaliland, a self-declared republic of 4 million people inside Horn of Africa, will be one of the entire world’s most vulnerable places to climate change. Poor in addition to drought-hit, in addition to without legal status as a country, the idea will be struggling to adapt for the future.

As the Syria-sized republic battles worsening weather crises in addition to growing migration within in addition to out of the region, the idea will be racing to find ways to stem a tide of climate migrants, keep people on ever-less-productive land in addition to create brand new jobs for the unemployed.

In particular, soaring youth employment, as destitute families leave farming however find nothing else to do, will be creating a social in addition to political “timebomb” in a region already struggling with migration in addition to extremism, Somaliland representatives warn.

“the idea will be a nation moving,” Minister for the Environment in addition to Rural Development Shukri Ismail Bandare said in an interview in her office inside capital Hargeisa, where goats roam the streets, some with their owners’ phone numbers written in pen on their side.

“Climate change will be real in Somaliland … in addition to the idea will be becoming a disaster.”

however the crisis in Somaliland will be also seen as a forewarning, with the entire world Bank estimating climate change could force about 140 million people to migrate in three of the entire world’s poorest regions by 2050 unless action will be taken.

Analysis by the University of California, Santa Barbara’s Climate Hazards Center for the Thomson Reuters Foundation found average daily maximum temperatures in Somaliland have risen by about a degree over the last 30 or so years, to about 34 degrees Celsius (93 Fahrenheit).

Meanwhile there has been a marked increase inside number of dry seasons, with only three Great March to May rains in 20 years. of which has hit crops in addition to the herds of goats, camel, sheep in addition to cattle of which are the backbone of Somaliland’s economy.

Faisal Ali Sheikh, head of the Somaliland National Disaster Preparedness in addition to Food Reserve Authority, said Somaliland faced greater challenges than some other countries in part due to poverty in addition to poor infrastructure, with little transport in addition to few roads.

Government data puts the republic’s GDP at $646 per person, creating the idea one of the 10 poorest places globally, according to World Bank figures. The government estimates 50% of urban in addition to 64% of rural people are poor.

Adding to the complications will be Islamic Somaliland’s legal status.

the idea broke away by Somalia in 1991, in addition to has operated independently since, largely without the terrorism in addition to violence of which plagues parts of Somalia.

however the self-declared state will be not recognised as a country, which rules out direct aid or loans by most global institutions.

“We are different by some other countries … the challenges here are far greater,” Sheikh said in an interview in his office inside government sector of Hargeisa, a dusty city of about one million where there are few tarmac roads in addition to no street names.

“We don’t have rivers or any water deposits. Our life on the whole in This particular country depends on water by rain … in addition to we can’t get loans by some other countries.”

Climate change has exacerbated a long-running humanitarian crisis in Somalia in addition to in Somaliland, which makes up about 30% of Somalia’s territory, inside northwest of the country.

The unusual circumstances make the idea one of the entire world’s most complex emergencies.

After 20 years of civil war in Somalia, famine swept the idea in addition to much of East Africa in 2011, claiming 260,000 lives. Photos of emaciated children shocked the entire world as 13 million went hungry in addition to many fled their homes during a brutal drought.

As signs of a similar drought-heralding El Nino weather pattern formed several years later, aid agencies moved quickly in addition to averted another famine in addition to widescale loss of lives during a drought in 2016 in addition to 2017.

however the crisis killed about 80% of Somaliland’s livestock, its major export in addition to the basis of the state’s economy.

As people struggled to recover, the republic then was hit in May 2018 by tropical Cyclone Sagar – the strongest recorded cyclone to make landfall in of which part of the entire world – forcing thousands more by their homes.

Hopes were high for a reprieve This particular year. however the March to May rainy season, known as the Gu’, again failed, leaving Somaliland teetering on the brink of catastrophe.

“the idea will be pretty much game over for getting any precipitation in Somaliland until October or early November,” said Chris Funk, research director for the U.S.-based Climate Hazards Center.

“Overall the situation will be looking truly grim.”

He said Somaliland was particularly vulnerable to climate threats because the idea was one of the few regions to receive droughts during both El Nino in addition to La Nina weather oscillations, the dominant pattern of large-scale tropical climate variation.

The increased regularity of droughts was also tied to climate-change-driven warming inside Indian in addition to Pacific Oceans, which has tended to produce more rainfall over the ocean in addition to less over eastern East Africa, he said.

“the idea seems inside long term This particular increasing frequency of drought will continue as of which seems to be the brand new normal,” Funk said. Somaliland “seems to be getting drier in addition to much hotter”.

The United Nations’ food agency, the Food in addition to Agriculture Organization (FAO), said a third of the population of Somalia, including Somaliland, was today facing food shortages – 30% higher than estimated at the start of 2019.

having a crisis looming, the United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in May launched a call for $710 million in drought aid for Somalia.

The appeal came four months after a U.N. humanitarian bid for more than $1 billion, to support aid operations in Somalia during 2019, fell far short, as donor response to repeated drought appeals wavered.

For many rural families in Somaliland, however, the idea will be already too late to ride out the drought.

Much of the country’s livestock will be dead in addition to families have been forced by their homes, leaving the future of the next generation uncertain, with nearly two out of three young people unemployed.

A government spokesman said about 0,000 people were believed to have left their homes in recent years, driven by pressures linked to climate change – in addition to the number was rising.

Fatima Aden, who put her age at about 80, moved to the Sheikh Omer camp for people internally displaced in Somaliland about six years ago, abandoning a pastoral life of which had supported her family for generations.

inside camp of about 1,500 people, about 10 km (6 miles) by Hargeisa, Aden spoke about her childhood by her buul – a traditional hut of which used to be built by branches in addition to grass however will be today made of wood, corrugated iron in addition to pieces of cloth.

“When I was young the idea was green, with forests everywhere, in addition to people had enough livestock in every family of which could be sold to buy anything they needed,” said Aden, a mother of six who lives with 15 members of her family.

“In my life I have seen many dry spells in addition to different levels of drought however the severity of the drought we have had for the past 10 years truly will be the worst ever.”

Aden, who earns some money selling the stimulant leaf khat inside camp, said more in addition to more people were coming to the cities in addition to the camps with no work, nothing to do in addition to no access to running water or electricity.

“We have never seen people lose all their animals before in addition to get to the point where they risk losing their lives,” said Aden, as cats sniffed around her feet searching for scraps of food.

“Life will be changing every year, in addition to every year will be becoming more difficult,” she said. “I worry for the future, for my children, their families.

With few opportunities to earn an income in addition to youth unemployment soaring, charities in addition to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) This particular year have stepped up efforts to assist the rising numbers in need of help.

In Sheikh Omer camp – one of an estimated 20 such camps in in addition to around Hargeisa, according to charity workers – Save the Children has provided grants since 2017 to keep youngsters out of child labour in addition to in school.

This particular year the charity started off a cash transfer scheme, giving families $75 a month for food in addition to some other supplies amid  projections of growing numbers of people in crisis.

“Malnutrition, drought-related diseases in addition to displacement are on the rise,” Save the Children spokeswoman Jamillah Mwanjisi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Some families are only managing to hold on to their rural homes in addition to livelihoods with help by local in addition to international aid groups.

The village of Abdigeedi, about 0 km (100 miles) northwest of Hargeisa in addition to near the border with Djibouti, will be particularly hard-hit.

Sited in one of the most drought-affected areas, the idea has lacked Great rains since 2014 in addition to was then flattened by Cyclone Sagar last year.

The cyclone destroyed every home inside village of 2,000 people, with only the brick mosque, school in addition to health clinic left standing.

“For the past four or several years This particular community has been suffering having a failure of rain in addition to will be heavily dependent on assistance,” said Nour Abdi Indanoor, food security in addition to livelihoods project manager with Save the Children.

Signs around the village indicated at least eight NGOs in addition to charities – by the Norwegian Refugee Council to UNICEF – were helping the community with everything by food vouchers to latrines.

“They could not survive without of which,” said Indanoor, swatting away flies inside sweltering heat.

Saleban Sead Ali, head of the village elders, said help was welcome however no one was able to provide for the goats in addition to camels of which were central to their lives, with many animals dying.

“After the cyclone people tried to carry their weak animals to another village for help however they came back with nothing. They all died,” said the father of 10, who estimated his age at 47 in addition to spoke via a translator.

“We can’t move to another location. Our land will be not suitable to farm so our only opportunity will be to rear livestock again,” he said. “I trust to (do so) again despite the harsh conditions, to be independent again.”

Ayan Mahamoud, Somaliland’s resident representative in Britain in addition to the Commonwealth, said climate-driven crises were today nearly a constant inside state, weakening the traditional nomadic way of life in addition to the clan system of Somaliland society.

“Every some other year today we have something huge,” Mahamoud told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“The pastoral community has been affected the most, losing so many animals in addition to their social structure,” she said.

As people move to cities, where youth unemployment will be huge, “the idea will be becoming a timebomb”, said Mahamoud, who lobbies for Somaliland’s official recognition in addition to supports the 150,000 or sopeople by the republic today living in Britain.

Efforts are underway to try to help rural people remain on their land in addition to adapt to worsening droughts in addition to some other climate pressures, through measures by building irrigation systems in addition to water storage to introducing drought-resistant seeds.

Drought early warning systems are being put in place to help pastoral communities sell livestock before conditions turn threatening, avoiding economic losses.

Officials also are trying to find ways to stabilise food prices across the region.

In Biyoguure Village, about 30 km down a sand track by Berbera, 40-year-old farmer Ahmed Ali will be determined to stay in his village with his wife Zaynab Abdi in addition to four young sons.

“Every year the idea will be getting worse in addition to worse in addition to the droughts are getting longer in addition to longer,” Ali told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview in a school building sheltered by the scorching 40 degrees Celsius (104°F) heat outside.

“however I don’t know what the some other options would certainly be if I tried to leave.”

Ali’s family will be one of several inside village of about 140 people to This particular year start receiving $70 a month by a local NGO called GRASHO – Grass Roots Support For Humanitarian Organisations – which gets FAO funding to work on crop projects.

GRASHO spokesman Abdulkadir Buuh said the organisation had increased assistance This particular year, having a drought emergency predicted, in addition to today works with about 18 villages.

Humanitarian aid experts say providing such help in advance of a disaster, rather than just responding afterwards, can cut losses in addition to aid costs.

however even with This particular help Ali doubts his children will remain on the family’s land.

“I don’t think my children will stay farming because they have seen what I have faced in addition to the environment,” he said as he walked up to the family’s enclosure, on a hill overlooking the barren village where thorn fences keep the hyenas away at night.

Still, “I feel the idea will be my duty to take care of the village in addition to the peace like my forefathers.”

About 10 km away inside village of Magab, Maryam Jama, 19, also doubted she would certainly ever leave her village despite the worsening conditions. Generations of her family had been pastoralists, she said.

Jama was married at the age of 10 to another villager, Mahdi Mohamed, in addition to had her first child at 11. She today has two sons.

Maryam Jama in addition to her son are pictured inside village of Magab, near Berbera, in Somaliland on July 4, 2019. Thomson Reuters Foundation/Claudio Accheri

“We have lost a lot of livestock – camels, goats, sheep in addition to donkeys,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a buul in her village, where residents receive animal fodder in addition to deworming treatment by GRASHO.

“I tried to leave a couple of times however I had no better options,” she said. “I am a native here in addition to I see my future here. I am hoping with help the idea will only get better.”

Some efforts to help rural families adapt to the harsher conditions have started off to pay dividends.

Local non-governmental organisation HAVOYOCO – the Horn of Africa Voluntary Youth Committee –  set up a community seed bank in 2015 in Galoley.

The village, about 50 km by Hargeisa, will be in an area known as the food basket of Somaliland.

Project manager Mohamed Ali said the bank distributed drought-resistant, disease-free seeds – ranging by maize to sorghum in addition to tomatoes – to local farmers who then contributed seeds by their own harvests back to the bank.

HAVOYOCO, which receives funding by a range of organisations, by The Development Fund of Norway to Oxfam, CARE in addition to the FAO, also has much better water harvesting inside area, capturing rainwater for crops in addition to animals.

“People had many challenges before. the idea was difficult to get seeds during drought seasons or Great quality seeds,” Ali said, surveying acres of green, healthy crops of which contrasted vividly with the rest of Somaliland.

however today “people by the east in addition to some other regions are coming here for better pastures in addition to food”, he said.

With weather patterns becoming more extreme each year, “we support people because we want people to keep their livelihoods”, he said.

however Edna Adan Ismail, Somaliland’s first female cabinet minister in addition to a former foreign minister, said many rural people had no choice however to move in addition to try to find some other work as traditional livelihoods were lost.

“Their survival depends on the idea,” said Adan, who set up the Edna Adan University Hospital in Hargeisa.

In a bid to diversify its livestock-dependent economy, Somaliland will be courting overseas investors tempted by the country’s position along a vital sea transport route.

Somaliland controls 760 km (460 miles) of coastland along the Gulf of Aden. In of which zone, the United Arab Emirates will be funding a $440 million upgrade of the deep-water port at Berbera as well as setting up a military base.

“the idea will be critical of which we diversify our economy to bring trade in addition to jobs,” Adan said.

however winning political recognition as a state will be also critical to Somaliland’s future, she said.

“When you are recognised, people will come in addition to they will invest.”

Somaliland was a British protectorate until 1960 when the idea united with the formerly Italian Somalia. the idea later broke away by Somalia in 1991 in a bloody civil war.

Hargeisa became known as “the Dresden of Africa”, with the city devastated by aerial bombardments. Much of its population fled.