In recent years the climate in Somalia has become more extreme and erratic, threatening traditional livelihoods based on crops, livestock, fisheries and forestry. Because these traditional practices are reliant on predictable rain patterns, some have already been displaced as a result of food insecurity and if conditions continue to worsen the numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) will continue to grow. Already three-quarters of Somalia’s IDPs live in poverty traps in urban environments without reliable access to services. As a result, many turn to maladaptive practices like illegal logging to make ends meet, turning forested areas around cities into deserts. Aside from the obvious risks to human security from these conditions, some also warn of risks of violent conflict.
“It is time to rethink the narrative around climate change in Somalia: it is not a side issue, it is at the origin of all the other social, economic, and security problems.” - EU Delegation to Somalia
A new report from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) analyses the possibilities for adaptation that foster resilience amid climate change-related displacement. They give four broad recommendations to better adapt to climate change.
Firstly, participatory and longer-term adaptation measures must be focused on, rather than short term gains. Full communities must be engaged in any planning, including IDPs, to make long term adaptation commitments like restoring green belts and ending maladaptive practices.
Secondly, new models of territorial governance must be developed that do not simply fall back to the old rural/urban divide. At a time of such widespread displacements, compartmentalisation will not help. This also goes for large scale land management projects necessary for adaptation.
Thirdly, the use of livelihood diversification and mobility as positive coping strategies – economically, socially and environmentally must be considered. The diversification of livelihoods, especially through the encouragement of green jobs through diaspora and international organisation investment will help to conserve natural resources.
Fourthly, education and learning on climate change must be a part of both decision-making process and solutions on the ground. This includes not only awareness-raising and education of IDPs on the ground, but also extends to considerations when designing long term reintegration solutions. Urban-rural perimeters and other data must be collected, data must be shared and other climate adaptation projects should be monitored and evaluated in order to better monitor, mitigate and adapt to climate shocks in the future.
Read the full report here
Photo Credit: UNICEF/ Flickr