Facing the Droughts with Renewed Hope and Optimism
Droughts in Somalia are now more frequent and last longer. Although it varied in intensity at different stages, the current cycle has gotten more severe in the past two years. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs projects that 6 million people across Somalia are in need of urgent food assistance. To put that into perspective as acute malnutrition and mortality levels rise, 38% of Somalia’s population are facing a devastating famine if they do not receive food assistance soon.
The situation of the droughts is made worse by the security situation of the country as most of those that are affected could not be reached. However, and perhaps more jarring, is the fact that the situation is made worse by the political upheaval the country seems to find itself in repeatedly. The dragged-on elections and the resulting tit-for-tat politicking has shifted priority and much needed attention from the droughts.
With the election concluded and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in office, there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel. As soon as he took office, he appointed a special envoy whose sole role is to raise awareness, coordinate assistance and deliver that assistance to the people most in need. Moreover, while in Southwest, President Mohamud himself visited a camp and met with displaced persons affected by the drought. The President’s visit is another significant step to raise awareness as well as signal to where his priorities lie.
Presidential Peace Caravan
This was a bitter, polarising and highly contested elections, so it only made sense that those that abused their authority but are now defeated felt unsettled when those they mistreated came to power. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud knew this and embarked on a peace tour to settle some nerves.
He first visited the federal state of Southwest whose highly partisan president was facing a stiff challenge by some of the old guard of his state that he mistreated and replaced. Staying true to his campaign slogan, Somalia at peace with itself and with the world, the President met with key actors in Southwest and assured them that, under his watch, there will be no targeted retaliations, tweeting “a united, safe, connected and prosperous nation is what we must strive to build together”.
On the second leg of his tour, President Hassan Sh. Mohamud headed straight to Galmudug, a state run by a leader that openly campaigned against him, and at times, seemed to be the campaign manager of former President Farmaajo. While in Galmudug, President Mohamud will meet with traditional elders and civil society organisations. Gorfayn understands that the President will tell them how committed he is in uniting the country.
For Somalia to effectively address the pressing issues it faces, it cannot afford to spend an iota of its time on brinkmanship. As far as Somalia is concerned, bygones should be bygones and President Mohamud, at least for now, appears to be committed to that.