SoDMA Conducts Emergency Meeting to Address Potential El Niño Impact Preparedness
The National Disaster Management Agency (SoDMA) spearheaded a crucial meeting focused on the potential impact of an impending climatic phenomenon, El Niño. The gathering saw attendance from representatives across various humanitarian, diplomatic, relief, and governmental agencies. The aim was to synchronize efforts and resources to minimize the risks associated with El Niño, which could trigger floods, droughts, landslides, and diseases, impacting many regions of the country.
According to SoDMA, the upcoming months may witness an intensification of El Niño. This could lead to severe humanitarian and environmental challenges for Somalia, especially in areas already grappling with food insecurity, displacement, and conflict. To brace for this, the attendees of the meeting agreed on a strategy that includes early warning systems, contingency planning, the pre-positioning of supplies, the mobilization of funds, and advocating for humanitarian access.
International Support Needed
Given the looming challenges, SoDMA has appealed to the international community and donors to support the Somali government and its people in managing the effects of El Niño. The agency has called for timely and sufficient assistance to be provided to those who will be in need. The crucial takeaway is the urgent need for preparedness and support in response to the potential negative impacts of El Niño on Somalia.
As El Niño threatens to bring about increased rainfall and potentially severe flooding in riverine areas of Somalia, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the British Embassy Mogadishu (BEM) have initiated an Anticipatory Action and Preparedness program. This program, named “Badbaado” which translates to “to salvage from calamity”, seeks to mitigate, prepare for, and respond to the threat of severe flooding and humanitarian disaster during the country’s second major rainy season, which typically falls between October and December.
Project Badbaado: A Beacon of Hope
Under the leadership of the Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MoAI) and in partnership with SoDMA, Project Badbaado plans to close breakage points along the Shabelle river in Beletweyne town to slow down flood waters, thereby reducing the immediate impact of flooding and allowing people time to move away from high-risk areas. The project also includes plans to rehabilitate a major canal to redirect flood waters away from populated areas in Beletweyne. Early warning systems are to be activated in partnership with government and local responders along the Shabelle and Juba rivers, with messages transmitted to communities through local radio networks, SMS services, and official channels to inform early action and save lives.
El Niño, a natural climate phenomenon, incites changes in weather patterns globally and is known to recur every 2-7 years, typically lasting 9-12 months. The phenomenon’s unique slow onset and periodic pattern allow for the design of anticipatory policies and procedures to mitigate its impacts. With the likelihood of El Niño continuing through the end of the year and potentially into 2024, the need for preparedness and anticipatory action is indeed pressing. The phenomenon’s disruptions to rainfall and temperature patterns may significantly impact agriculture, rural livelihoods, and food security, necessitating effective early action concentrated on preventing damage and loss to crops, livestock, productive lands, waters, and infrastructure.
FAO’s Call for Anticipatory Action and Response
FAO’s El Niño Anticipatory Action and Response Plan requires urgent funding to provide immediate support to the most at risk and affected populations. The plan aims to mitigate El Niño disaster impacts, capitalize on the positive spillover effects of El Niño, and deliver early response where devastation occurs. Every USD 1 invested in anticipatory action can create a return for farming families of more than USD 7 in avoided losses and added benefits, demonstrating the importance and effectiveness of early and well-planned action.
The question is no longer if El Niño will happen, but how we can effectively mitigate its impacts. The world enters this El Niño cycle already with record numbers experiencing acute hunger and only a fraction of the funds necessary to deliver food security assistance to the most vulnerable. The call for anticipatory action, preparedness, and international support is clear and urgent. There is a short window of opportunity to intervene and prevent a large-scale humanitarian disaster – it is not too late to take action.
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