An environmental study carried out by Somali researchers has found that vegetation in parts of the arid northern regions have shrunk by 80 per cent in the last 30 years, contributing greatly to the ongoing cycle of drought in Somalia.
Saed Shidad, lead researcher from Puntland State University, visited the regions of Mudug, Nugal, Bari, Sanag, Sool and Awdal, conducting interviews with local people and surveying sites. The survey, carried out from April to November, found that trees in highland areas have declined by a third.
According to the researchers, a population surge, lack of investment in rural areas, over grazing, deforestation, soil erosion, and changes in climatic patterns have all contributed to the devastating droughts experienced in recent years.
These regions have always received low rainfall but rain that used to was now proving to be totally inadequate given the other factors.
“When it rained for a short while 30 years ago people used to see the benefits and there were no large displacements of people. But now the same little amount of rain attracts scores of people migrating to wherever it falls,” Saed said.
Increasing deforestation has led to higher levels of soil erosion and the drying up of what were once grazing lands.
The researchers recommended that local authorities took part in widespread awareness campaigns to make pastoralist communities and urban residents understand the consequences of what is happening and how to plan to mitigate the damage. They advocated a mass tree planting campaign.
Saed identified the resettlement of displaced families as a priority in the long term solution to the ongoing environmental degradation.