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Bulletin No.3 – Horn of Africa

19-05-2006 Operational Update No 06/03

Latest report on ICRC activities in the field


Listen to Mark Snelling's report for the British Red Cross from Somalia.    

The water supply for both humans and livestock has increased throughout Somalia. This improvement has prompted large-scale migration of herders from river valleys and farmland into traditional grazing areas in the hinterland.

In addition, neighbouring Ethiopia and Kenya have received good rains. Heavy rains in the Ethiopian highlands have resulted in higher levels in both the Jubba and Shabeelle rivers. Localized flooding has even been reported in some areas.

In spite of the growing regional rainfall, the ICRC continues to focus – in conjunction with the Somali Red Crescent Society – on distributing food, seed and household items, as well as running water-supply and sanitation projects and a livestock-support programme. The goal is to move gradually from a perspective of emergency to one of stabilization and rebuilding.

 1. Somalia  

Heavy rains fell in drought-affected parts of the country, bringing mu ch-awaited psychological relief and replenishing sources of water along migration routes. Herds of camels started moving northwards, indicating relative optimism among nomadic communities about the quality of the rainy season.

While Gedo region and the Jubba and middle and lower Shabeelle rivers received a lot of rain (making transport of aid quite difficult) drought areas still exist along the coastal areas from Mogadishu up to Puntland and the northern interior of Puntland around Qardho. Central regions including Bay, Hiran, Galgadud and Mudug have received fair rains so far.

As a result, the ICRC has ended the water-trucking operations in the south and moved its focus, for one week, to areas still affected by the drought.

The rainy season seems promising so far, despite the remaining abnormally dry areas in the country. However, such situations have frequently arisen in recent decades and reflect Somalia's nature as a desert country.

While the risk of further drought remains, by early June preliminary precipitation statistics should be available for forecasting the quality of the July harvest and thus enabling the ICRC to decide whether it should maintain or adapt its strategy.

In some mixed agricultural and herding areas, the ICRC has started flood-prevention measures, distributing 180,000 sand bags so far.

Help for the victims of the conflict continues. Since the fighting in Mogadishu began escalating, the ICRC has stepped up its support for Keysaney Hospital, run by the Somali Red Crescent, and Medina Hospital, a community-run facility.



 Situation in Somalia  


 Repair and upgrading of water-supply facilities  

All rainwater-catchment devices repaired by the ICRC in March are now filling up, thanks to the recent rains.

  • Bakool: 1 borehole was repaired; 3 hand-dug wells will be repaired in May

  • Mudug , Nugaal, Bari   and   Sool : 15 sites were assessed for well and spring improvement

  • Bay: 13 rainwater-catchment devices and 4 hand-dug wells currently under repair, with 2 boreholes already repaired

  • Lower Shabeelle: 27 sources of water have been assessed for upgrading

  • Western Mudug: situation still disastrous, population still losing livestock (Water was trucked to the area at the end of April.)

  • Gedo: in March and April a total of 20 hand-dug wells repaired; 12 rainwater catchments assessed for repair

  • Middle and lower Jubba: 6 boreholes under repair.


The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent have distributed food rations that included maize, beans and vegetable oil, family rations being based on an assessed average of six members:

  • Mudug: 3,819 families (1 ration for 1 month)

  • Galgadud: 4,005 families (1 ration for 1 month)

  • Lower Shabeelle: 16 ,180 families (2 rations, for 2 months, for 8,000 of those families)

  • Middle Jubba : 2,500 families (distributions only in Gilib area, to people displaced by the conflict)

  • Bakool: 8,500 families (2 rations, for 2 months, for 8,000 of those families).

 Pasture situation : After the first rains in April, the situation is slowly getting back to normal.

 Agriculture : More rain is still needed. In Bakool the sorghum is germinating.

 Veterinary programme : Working jointly with two non-governmental organizations – Cooperazione Internazionale and Vétérinaires Sans Frontières – the ICRC treated 700,000 head of livestock for parasites and various diseases.

 2. Ethiopia  

Erratic rainfall over the past few years has affected parts of the Somali Regional State, the main victims being herding communities. The situation is similar to that described above in neighbouring Somalia. The ICRC started working in the affected areas in February 2006, striving for a better water supply and promoting human and animal health in Afder, Fik and Gode as well as in the Liben area.

The rains have now reached most areas of Somali Regional State, providing relief for both humans and livestock. The overall situation in humanitarian terms remains precarious, and the ICRC is standing by to take the necessary measures if required.

The ICRC will also continue to support the work of the Ethiopian Red Cross Society in behalf of communities affected by the drought.



 Situation in Ethiopia  


Between 6 February and 24 April, a fleet of ICRC 19 trucks delivered over 7,500 cubic metres of water to 32 distribution points, making a total of 840 trips and driving 110,000 km over very rough roads in the process. However, owing to the growing availability of water thanks to the recent rains, water-trucking operations have been temporarily halted in Somali Region.

In Gode and Afder, the ICRC:

  • set up three stations for filling water-trucks, at two boreholes in Bare town and on the banks of the Shabeelle river in Gode

  • upgraded water-distribution points by setting up bladders and onion tanks in 16 locations around Bare;

  • trucked water for distribution around Bare and on the Gode-Harghele road;

  • supported the local administration in Gode and Harghele with five bladder tanks for storage of water trucked in.

In Liben, the ICRC:

  • provided 10 trucks (with spare parts) to carry out distributions

  • set up 13 temporary storage facilities at remote villages

  • repaired 4 boreholes around Filtu.

 Human health  

The ICRC improved health care for people living in the Gode and Afder areas by supplying essential medicines and other items to clinics, then verifying that they were correctly used in Kelafo and Mustahil (Gode area).

 Animal health  

Around Mustahil and Ferfer (Gode area), the ICRC has:

  • since its operation began, treated 264,000 animals for ticks and other parasites, trypanosomiasis, and respiratory diseases

  • focused on breeding sheep, goats, cattle and camels, while giving particular attention to keeping the young stock healthy.

 Pump maintenance  

The ICRC has worked to facilitate irrigation for farming along the Shabeelle river in the Gode area (EImi, Gode, Kelafo, Mustahil and Ferfer districts).

 3. Kenya  

Many parts of Kenya have been experiencing often extremely heavy rains, with frequent flash floods that have claimed lives, destroyed homes and damaged roads. In central and western Kenya, farmers are busy preparing their fields and planting. It is still too early to assess the precipitation's general impact.

The onset of the rains coincided with an increase in clashes between different groups of herders, cattle rustling, and road banditry in northern Kenya. Over the past few weeks West Pokot, Turkana, Samburu, Baringo, Laikipia, Marsabit and Moyale have suffered attacks in the course of which at least 20 persons were killed. Thousands have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in schools, churches and urban centres.

The Kenya Red Cross Society has been working closely with the local authorities in the affected districts, distributing food and other relief. The ICRC has continued its support for the Society's work by:

  • kaking trucks and trailers available to transport relief supplies;

  • training Kenya Red Cross staff in wareho use-stock management;

  • equipping four Kenya Red Cross vehicles with radios.

In Lokichokio, the ICRC completed the first phase of a veterinary project by treating some 20,000 head of livestock. In conjunction with the Kenya Red Cross, the Geneva-based organization assessed the preparedness of hospitals to treat gunshot wounds in Marsabit and Moyale districts, which have been prone to clashes lately.

 For further information, please contact:  

 Nicole Engelbrecht, ICRC Nairobi, tel. +254 20 2723 963 or +254 722 51 27 28  

 Pedram Yazdi, ICRC Somalia (in Nairobi), tel. +254 20 2723 963 or +254 722 51 81 42  

 Patrick Mégevand, ICRC Addis Ababa, tel. +251 11 551 8366 or +251 91 148 0921  

 Marco Jimenez, ICRC Geneva, tel. +41 22 730 2271