HARGEISA, 10 June 2009 (IRIN) - Officials in Somalia's self-declared Republic of Somaliland are concerned about food security following poor rains during the March-May planting season, known as the Gu'. Mohamed Muse Awale, chairman of the National Environment Research and Disaster Preparedness Agency (NERAD), said the situation was deteriorating throughout the country as nowhere had experienced reliable rains. "A little rain has been reported in Golis mountains and the west of the country, but even these places dramatically dried up as soon as Xaggaa [summer] winds started; we are coming together with our partners from the Somaliland government and our international partners in the Ministry of Interior to discuss how to handle this problem," Awale said. He added: "We are now collecting information from the remote areas, where NERAD does not have offices, with the collaboration of the Ministry of Interior, which has radio calls in everywhere in the country; after that we will call for help." Unless additional rainfall is experienced in June, there could be crop failure in many parts of Somaliland, officials of the Food Security Analysis Unit (FSAU) of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said. Mahdi Geidi Kayad, an FSAU liaison officer in Somaliland, said the 2009 Gu’ rainfall was way below normal in terms of distribution and coverage. "The normal rainfall average is 500-600mm but only 40-60 percent of the normal average has been received so far," Kayad said. "For this reason, it is predicted [that] if additional rains do not fall in June, about 80 percent of crop production failure [will be recorded] in Hargeisa and Awdal Regions.
Livestock deaths The FSAU report also noted that livestock had died due to drought in the region. "Most of the new-born lambs died due to lack of milk or fresh grass to eat; sheep were the hardest hit by the drought, particularly emaciated ewes, while giving birth," the report said. "Their death rate abruptly went extremely high, about 30-45 percent in most areas of Gabi and Sool plateau." Moreover, drought-related livestock diseases increased, FSAU said, adding that carcasses of dead animals were found everywhere, especially in Upper Nugal, Gabi Valley and Sool Plateau. Ahmed Aw Dahir, mayor of Las Anod, the administrative capital of Sool, said: "The rainfall was much below normal; the Haggaa seasonal winds have started. For this reason, we are worried if more rains do not fall soon severe drought may erupt in the region, as well as the surrounding regions. "This will impact badly on the livelihood of both pastoralists and people in the urban centres, who depend on the rural agricultural areas."