Drought Crisis in Somalia: More coordination is needed to face upcoming humanitarian crises

© Lutheran World Federation

While COP24 is meeting in Katowice, Poland, to find practical solutions to the most pressing environmental crisis of our times, the effects of climate change are already taking their toll on the most vulnerable communities worldwide.

The drought in Somalia is a clear example that more needs to be done in terms of coordinated humanitarian response to prepare for the threats of global warming. 

In 2016-2017 Somalia faced one of its hardest droughts in recent history. Four consecutive poor rainy seasons had pushed the country to the verge of famine with over half of the population in Somalia in need of assistance. The drought triggered large-scale crop failure and high levels of livestock deaths and sickness. 

The favorable rainfall during 2018 has helped end the shortage of water, however the adverse impacts of the severe drought persist, especially among shepherds who lost most of their animals and among people who were poverty-stricken and became displaced.

Due a concerted humanitarian response that involved among others, members of the ACT Somalia Forum, including Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH), Diakonia Sweden, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) and Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), the country was able to avert famine. However, a lot still needs to be done on emergency preparedness and disaster risk reduction strategies to minimize negative impact of drought and other climate related causes. 

© Lutheran World Federation

Setting high standards of accountability for emergency resources during the onset of disasters contributes to reaching vulnerable communities more effectively and reducing duplication of services to affected populations.

Norwegian Church Aid provided affected communities with immediate food access and life-saving WASH assistance, including the rehabilitation of water facilities, the distribution of water vouchers and the construction of sanitary services. 

NCA  reports that establishing a local structure is indeed essential to building local ownership and increasing the chances of success in the mainstreaming and replication phases. Local administrations play an important role in identifying the needs of the communities and in project implementation. Promoting participation and engagement with all stakeholders at local level is key to ensuring community awareness, support and project sustainability. 

Through its strong focus on community resilience, ACT Alliance promotes and implements emergency preparedness and humanitarian response that ensures the participation of affected communities, local and national stakeholders. Through its humanitarian coordination ACT members leverage the benefits of working together and build on existing partnerships to amplify the impact and effectiveness of humanitarian work. 

© Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH)

In 2018 alone, more than 128 million people across the world are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection. With more climate-induced humanitarian crises on the horizon, humanitarian relief organisations must invest in more effective, cost-efficient ways of delivering assistance to avoid duplications and swiftly respond to crises. 

ACT Alliance is thus working to strengthen the humanitarian capacity of its forums and national members through robust capacity and learning mechanisms and the establishment of an effective support mechanism that utilises available resources within forums and across geographic regions. These mechanisms will be defined by national forums based on their own contexts through up-to-date Emergency Preparedness and Response Plans (EPRPs), which will be made mandatory for all ACT forums beginning 2019.