Somalia is facing one of the worst droughts in its history after four consecutive failed rainy seasons. Millions of livestock have perished, wells have dried-up, and more than 1 million people have been internally displaced, with an expected 7.1 million people to be affected by the drought, some at catastrophic levels.
Staff from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) were on the ground before the drought started and have scaled-up operations since it began, providing emergency medical assistance, sanitation, water and shelter items.
As most Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) flee to major cities in search of humanitarian assistance, IOM is upscaling activities in urban areas in order to be prepared for potential arrivals. IOM is also emphasizing the need of assisting communities where they reside to prevent placing additional pressure on cities that do not have the infrastructure or capacity to provide good services.
Aside from its dire impacts on lives and livelihoods, the drought is leading to an increased risk of violent conflict, as pastoralists compete for natural resources and grazing land, a situation that has been exploited by terrorist and criminal groups. That´s why IOM’s response is also targeting agro-pastoralist communities whose livestock is critical for agricultural value chains.
Do you want to know more? Here are five ways IOM is helping communities impacted by drought.
- TRACKING AND MONITORING DISPLACEMENT
Through IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) team — which gathers on-the-ground information on the mobility, vulnerabilities, and needs of displaced populations — IOM Somalia has been able to analyse drought-related data from 2017 to better understand the potential hotspots for displacement and projections of movements. This means, the organisation has been better prepared to anticipate areas that may observe the highest flows of IDPs due to the drought.
Additionally, IOM is monitoring the movement of people in areas with a significant increase of IDPs through its Emergency Tracking Tool (ETT). Key Informants previously trained are collecting data on a weekly basis to understand the displacement dynamics.
In January 2022, IOM, together with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) began publishing a monthly Drought Displacement Monitoring Snapshot to show displacement trends. You can find the latest here.
- BRINGING WATER AND SANITATION
As Somalia enters its fifth season without rain, access to safe drinking water has become a luxury few can afford, with many children drinking from contaminated water sources leading to a surge of water-borne diseases such as watery diarrhoea and measles. Water scarcity has also led to a high mortality rate amongst livestock and failed crop production.
Through emergency water trucking, IOM has been able to provide nearly half a million people with nearly 400 million litres of water. The organisation has also upgraded and constructed new boreholes and wells to secure long-term access to clean water. All the infrastructure will use solar panels and is environmentally friendly.
In addition, thousands of people have received hygiene kits, including a 10-litre bucket, jerry can, soap, water purification tablets, and menstrual hygiene items since the beginning of the year. While people residing in displacement sites are attending sessions aimed at improving hygiene practices to reduce the spread of water-borne diseases.
- EXPANDING HEALTH AND NUTRITION SERVICES
IOM is scaling up its health and nutrition services to reach communities in central and southern Somalia and in Somaliland. Through health clinics and mobile health teams, IOM, alongside local authorities is providing critical health assistance to displaced, vulnerable and migrant communities. The service is free for all individuals and has so far reached over 27,000 people. For many families, the services offered by IOM are the only ones available for them and is critical that they continue.
In the newly created IDP sites, IOM also provided routine medical care, including check-ups, child vaccination, mental and psychosocial support and stress management sessions.
IOM has also donated medical supplies to support health facilities following a shortage of essential medicines.
- MANAGING AND COORDINATING CAMPS
Since the beginning of the year, thousands of people have moved from rural areas to displacement sites located in urban areas across the country. Many of the IDPs have travelled for various weeks and have arrived to the sites in extreme vulnerability. Moreover, many of those displaced are households headed by women that have to provide for their elders, children and family members with disabilities. These populations are extremely vulnerable and often struggle to access information, services, or humanitarian assistance.
As a result, IOM is expanding their coordination operations in IDP sites to support people arriving in Dollow, Luuq, Baidoa, Kismayo and Mogadishu. While in some locations IOM is directly managing sites through its staff, in others, IOM is closely coordinating with authorities and humanitarian partners to ensure people arriving to the sites are provided with transparent information and guidance on their rights and access to services.
IOM staff have also established, and trained people residing in IDP sites to become Camp Management Committees and support new arrivals. They are registering and verifying newly displaced persons, directing them to safe plots to settle, communicating their rights and access to services, and alerting management of any concerns.
- PROVIDING CASH TO THE MOST AFFECTED
In June 2022, the cost for a household to meet its basic food needs was at its highest national average in five years. Skyrocketing food prices due to drought-induced livestock deaths and poor harvests is negatively impacting the purchasing power of communities. Moreover, the Ukraine crisis, and economies shocks are exacerbating the dire situation.
As part of its life-saving and life-sustaining activities IOM is ensuring that households displaced by the drought have access to basic shelter and household items required for survival. IOM is also supporting displaced families with Multi-Purpose Cash Assistance (MPCA) so they can meet their immediate needs while also ensuring their flexibility and dignity of choice.
- MINIMUM RESPONSE PACKAGE (MRP)
Most of the life-saving assistance is being implemented as part of a rapid response mechanism, called the Minimum Response Package (MRP).
You can learn more about it here.
Over 30 per cent of those that have been forced to flee are coming from hard-to-reach areas. These locations are geographically not far from the places where IOM operates but are inaccessible to aid partners due to a lack of infrastructure or being affected by conflict.
As more funding is secured, IOM will expand its operations to more hard-to-reach areas - either through direct implementation or local NGOs - to save lives and mitigate the need for families to move in the first place.
IOM is committed to enhance the availability of mental health support and psychosocial services to communities and is designing activities that aim to get a better understanding on the risks faced by women and girls in the camps. At least 80 per cent of those newly displaced due to the current drought are women and children. During emergency periods, there is an increased threat of Gender-Based Violence (GBV), especially in sites that receive high numbers of people but that don´t grow in land size.
MAKE A DONATION TODAY
Donate today to help us avert famine and save lives. With your contributions, IOM will provide those most in need with water, health care, shelter, and cash to buy other necessities.