AFPSomali refugees in Kenya after fleeing the drought
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 12:26
Due to the persistent drought and erratic weather patterns in the Horn of Africa, it is becoming increasingly difficult for residents of the region to find drinking water. According to a report by Oxfam Novib, one in five wells has no water. According to the aid organization, the increasing lack of water is one of the greatest threats to humanity.
“In five consecutive rainy seasons, too little rain has fallen here,” says Nienke Hiemstra, Oxfam Novib’s emergency aid project leader, from Somalia in the NOS Radio 1 News. “As a result, we have to drill deeper and deeper to find water. Often there is no groundwater at all, or the quality is poor and the water turns out to be undrinkable.”
More extreme weather
Oxfam Novib sees that extreme weather conditions are increasingly occurring in the region due to climate change. Last spring, after the five dry rainy seasons, an extreme amount of rain fell in some regions of Somalia. Wells and toilets were flooded.
“The wells were no longer usable due to flooding. The polluted water also caused cholera and all kinds of other diseases such as malaria and dengue,” the aid organization’s report says.
According to Hiemstra, the extreme weather makes life in Somalia difficult for many people. A large part of the population is shepherd and travels through the country with cattle. Hiemstra: “The drought of recent years has made this way of life increasingly difficult. We see that many of their cattle have weakened or died.”
Many of those people are now moving to the city for help, says Hiemstra. “Somalia is ravaged by conflicts, which means that aid cannot always reach the people. You now see many camps emerging around cities.” In the Horn of Africa, more than 32 million people are currently threatened by famine.
The report concludes that East Africa could be hit by an 8 percent increase in precipitation by 2040. A cycle of floods and droughts can wash away nutrients from depleted soils.
Hunger, disease and climate refugees
According to Hiemstra, it is important in the short term that more acute aid is sent to the region. In addition, investments must be made in sustainable water systems and greenhouse gas emissions by rich countries must be drastically reduced, she says.
Oxfam Novib calls the water crisis “one of the greatest threats to humanity” in a statement because it will lead to “more hunger, more disease and more climate refugees”.
Earlier research showed that global warming has increased the risk of drought in the Horn of Africa by about 100 times. The ongoing severe drought would not have happened without greenhouse gas emissions, the international research group World Weather Attribution said.