Drought hits nearly a million in Somalia

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Drought hits nearly a million in Somalia

July 15, 2001 Posted: 2:04 PM EDT (1804 GMT)

MOGADISHU, Somalia (Reuters) -- Nearly a million Somalis are affected by drought in large areas of their country, a minister in the new transitional government said on Sunday.

"The aging wells are drying up much faster than expected because of the severity of the drought and overcrowding," Minister of Mineral Resources and Water Hassan Abshir Farah said in a statement

His government -- set up after a lengthy conference of clan leaders last year but opposed by many of Somalia's armed factions -- was deeply concerned at the rapidly deteriorating water situation, he added.

Thousands of rural families had been forced to move from their homes in search of food and water, he said.

"Many are migrating to urban areas, selling their livestock and their meagre resources."

The transitional government called on the Somali people to conserve and share the limited water resources with their fellow citizens.

The Horn of Africa country has experienced many serious droughts, which frequently lead to clashes as rival groups fight over scarce grazing for their livestock.

Appealing to the international community for help, Hassan said: "If the present trend continues, it could lead to more disease, malnutrition, reduced economic growth and lawlessness."

Somalia has had no effective central authority since the government of President Mohamed Siad Barre collapsed in January 1991.

Despite the formation of a new transitional government last year, rival armed factions still control large areas, and two regions, Somaliland and Puntland, have declared themselves republics with no links to the Somali capital Mogadishu.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), July 15, 2001

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