Somalia has experienced dramatic environmental shifts and a drastic climate change impacts as result caused Piracy revolution.
Analytic Report by: SOMESHA 21st June, 2011
Grand theft auto Somalia
The horn of Africa country ofSomaliawhich is almost lack of government system has experienced dramatic environmental shifts and a drastic climate change impacts as result caused Piracy revolution.Somaliais currently experiencing almost all types of environmental concerns, both natural and man-made.
Somaliais experiencing enormous environmental problems, while on the other hand it is lacking both human and financial resources as well as political stability to address these life affecting issues.
In this assignment the Somali Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (SOMESHA) will particularly focus on legal and moral aspects of deforestation and hazardous waste dumping in the country, climate change impacts and the current wildlife situation in countrywide.
Background to Somalia
Somaliais geographically located in a very advantageous region, bordering both Indian Ocean and theRed Sea.Somaliais a country of 637,660 square kilometers situated with in theSahelzone of the Horn of Africa and populated by an estimated 7.5 million people, out of which 60% living in the south 30% living in the north and 10% in the centre.
About 70% of the population lives in the rural areas, where livelihoods are largely dependent upon livestock and agriculture.It shares borders withKenya,EthiopiaandDjibouti.
The modern history ofSomaliaconstitutes about 120 years (1880-2000): 80 years (1880-1960) of colonial rule (Lewis, 1988) and division; 30 years (1960-1990) of democratic but mostly military rule and; 10 years (1991-2001) of chaos and State collapse. The widespread famine inSomaliain 1992-93 caused by low agricultural yield due to several years of droughts combined with bloody civil war has resulted the largest UN humanitarian efforts and peacekeeping operations in history. Despite being politically disintegrated, Somali has culturally and ethnically homogenous society.
Poverty, which together with injustice is threatening the integrity of the nation, is the major root of social conflict and cause of the current political crisis inSomalia.
Most of the country is typically sparse savanna with few forested areas. According to the World Band, 55% ofSomalia’s land area is suitable for grazing, while the FAO estimate is lower, 29%, but still shows the greater for livestock production. Official estimates ofSomalia’s forest cover refer to 52,000 hectares of “dense” forest and 5.7 million hectares of “low density wood” (Somalia, 1987, ch. 7), this means that 9% of the total land is low density woodland – savanna woodlands. This is to indicate country’s limited amount of wood resources, which mainly consist of Acacias trees. On the other hand,Somaliahas the longest coastline of Africa, which stretches a distance of about 3300 km in both the Indian Ocean and theRed Sea. The long coastline is of importance chiefly permitting trade with the Middle East and the rest ofEast Africa.
Indicating the level of water scarcity, rainfall is very low (250 mm/y) and variable, while the potential evaporation is extremely very high (over 2000 mm/y). Droughts that occur very frequent are naturally caused by climate. It leads to water shortage and starvation particularly for the rural communities, which are more dependent on rainwater and grass for their survival in livestock raising and cultivation traditions. Being a natural disaster, drought causes loss of life both human and animal every year in Somalia. Deadly droughts is often followed by devastating floods, another natural disaster, which mainly severely affects southern part of the country, where the two rivers, the Jubaand the Shabelle, flow. These recurrent drought and severe floods affect the lives of the people and their animals without prediction and prevention.
Deforestation – The Result of Charcoal
Charcoal plays an important role in both the energy sectors and the economies of most African countries. Charcoal making provides a considerable amount of employment in rural areas; it also allows for a quick return on investments. However, the inefficiencies inherent to the production and use of charcoal place a heavy strain on local wood resources, resulting severe environmental consequences. In many parts of the world, the use of charcoal has been blamed for deforestation in the drier parts ofAfricahas led to an even worse problem – desertification and the loss of thousands of species. Deforestation is the product of the interaction of many environmental, social, political, economic and cultural forces at work in any given region.
SOMALIA – Deforested Country
During the last several years, a new type of business was introduced inSomalia. Cutting of trees to produce charcoal for export to theGulf Stateshas become a big business with considerable profits. In order to optimize the operation, local businessmen introduced a new technology – battery-powered chain saws for cutting of the forests. Trees are cut down, burn and brought by trucks for export from major ports in the country, particularly Mogadishu, Kismayo and Bosaso (BBC, 2000; and local newspapers) Becoming Somalia’s black gold, traders earn about $US million per ship (IRIN, 2000). Most of the charcoal is made in southernSomalia, while northern and eastern regions also experience the same problem but to a lesser extent. More than 80% of the trees used for charcoal are types of Acacia, the most dominant species (IRIN, 2000). Due to absence of government, there is no documentation of the volumes being exported or the amount of trees being cut down.
Causes behind the Conduct
The alarming rate of deforestation has a number of combined causes behind it. It is evident that it is largely a combination of human activities and social conditions.
Charcoal for Urban and Firewood for Rural:
Somalia has the lowest consumption of modern forms of energy in the Sub-Saharan Africa Firewood and charcoals are the major sources of energy for the majority of the people inSomalia. As a result of this, the removal of trees inSomalia is steadily increasing, following demographic trends, which are reversing the traditional Somali nomadic way of life, as well as other social crisis. As their source of energy, rural people rely on firewood while urban inhabitants use charcoal.Mogadishu’s charcoal supply comes mainly from the south. In rural areas, strong link between poverty and deforestation exist. Like other countries in Sub-Sahara Africa,Somalia is presently, as well as in the past, suffering from energy problems. Power and fuels cut-off have been frequent in all urban centers, access to electricity have also been poor or unreliable, if not absent.
Potential Energy Resources – Un-exploited Sources:
Yet Somalia is rich in energy resources, having un-exploited reserves of oil and natural gas, untapped hydropower, extensive geothermal energy resources, many promising wind sites, and abundant sunshine, which can produce solar power. Despite all these, traditional biomass fuels – mainly firewood and charcoal, the smoky and inefficient fuels of the poor – account for 82% of the country’s total energy consumption (Makakis, 1998 p.74). Technically, it would not be problem to develop these potentially available energy resources. Major obstacles are today political, financial and institutional.
Foreign Demand for Charcoal – the Major Driving Force:
Traditionally, the making of charcoal was limited to a small group of cutters who used hand axes and responded to an internal and very localized demand, which during the last several years started to increase. In spite of increases in local consumption, foreign demand for charcoal puts unprecedented pressure on locally limited wood resources. Taking full advantage of country’s lawless condition, interest-driven local businessmen with commercial links in the Gulf countries export tremendous amount of charcoal to mainlySaudi Arabia and theUnited Arab Emirates. Charcoal from dry land in poorSomalia is used in the houses of the Gulf countries as luxurious.
ILLEGAL HAZARDOUS WASTE DUMPING in Somalia
World’s chemical industries and nuclear energy plants have already generated millions of tons of hazardous wastes. Industrialized countries generate over 90% of the world’s hazardous wastes (WCED, 1987). The high growth of industries in developed countries was accompanied by an equally high increase in the production of toxic hazardous wastes. But the technological capacity to handle these by-products – wastes, was not developing by the same level.
This is the reason why problem of these wastes, particularly nuclear wastes, still remains unsolved. Taking advantage of political instability and high level of corruption but lured by the potential financial gains, poor African nations have been used as the dumping sites for hazardous toxic waste materials from developed countries. In some cases, the income generated from this trade, of importing hazardous waste from the West, has exceeded the GNP of many poor countries. Poverty is the reason of accepting importation of toxic wastes. Bearing the cost of the damage caused by the hazardous wastes,Africadisbenefits the entire attempt of generating revenue to alleviate poverty.
This do-or-die method becomes an alternative solution to the desperate search for revenue for some African countries, which are ill-equipped to dispose these health and environment threatening wastes. Both the exporting and importing counterparts violated international treaties to which most countries in the world are signatories.
During the Somali civil war, hazardous wastes were dumped in industrialized countries. In the fall of 1992 reports began to appear in the international media concerning unnamed European firms that were illegally dumping hazardous waste inSomalia. What caused controversy in 1992 were reports of a contract established by European firms with local warlords. The alleged perpetrators were Italian and Swiss firms who entered contracts with Somali warlords and businessmen to dump waste in the country.
The Impacts of Climate Change in Somalia
Today the entire people in this world are fighting to solve the climate change and most of international and regional climate campaigners are busy how it can be easy to solve without doing critical approach.
However, in 2007 the climate has been particularly harsh inSomalia:
First, the heavy rains at parts in the caused flooding in centralSomaliaas well as the droughts in the other parties caused a lot of problems that affected the people and the animals. But the rainy season itself was a disappointment, and water shortage made it impossible to replenish the reservoirs. Cereal production this year of 2009 is at 30% of the average for the last decade.
Secondly, clashes between Islamist-led insurgents andSomaliagovernment along with AMISOM forces pushed many Somalis to flee their homes and some displaced persons in camps are victims of the December 2004 tsunami who lost their fishing boats and came to towns inland hoping for help.
Their villages and communities were almost 5,000 kilometres from the epicentre of the earthquake that caused the tsunami, and yet they were not spared.
The cutting of trees and the making of charcoal have led to deforestation and desertification and, as a result, made the country more vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The lives and livelihoods ofSomaliafarmers and of the local communities have been seriously affected by the impacts of the climate change.It is also believed, that toxic wastes are being dumped into the unprotected Somali territorial waters. Dead fish and closed barrels with chemical contents have been seen floating over the Somali territorial waters.
The impacts of the climate change are already causing coastal erosion and possibly a rise in the level ofSomaliaseas. The lives and livelihoods of Somali fishermen alongSomalia3333-km coast are being seriously jeopardized.Somalia, coastal infrastructures are being affected. The displacement of people and the proliferation of piracy constitute a very serious dilemma for a country that is trying hard to bail itself out of the predicament that has lasted for a long time.
Somaliacontinues to witness extreme weather events, changes in weather patterns, floods and droughts, and the vanishing of its biodiversity.
Agricultural production, food security and access to water resources are being severely compromised by climate change. Human health is also impacted by the climate change. Malaria and other vector-borne diseases are now prevalent in areas that were not previously endemic. This is indicative of the fact that the impacts of climate change have altered the ecology of the vectors that transmit certain virulent pathogens that cause some of the most debilitating diseases in the country.
The Current situation of Somali Wildlife
Dozens of Somali wildlife had been killed and are still under death displacement day by day in acrossSomalia. There is also an estimated number of animals had been shot illegally for almost two decade And uncontrolled number of this were run to neighboring countries while many number is also exported illegally to abroad monthly. These caused by the lack of central government since the collapse of President Siad Barre regime in 1991. SOMESHA is desperately now wishing to look for how will Somali people can organize them selves so as to save the animal life both in Urban and rural areas and make ground reporting for both animal needs and environmental protection.
Somaliais also suffering from foreign helicopters that are hunting and stealing wildlife on the outskirts of the villages in coastal areas. The most targeted areas by the flying poachers are Nugal, Karkar and Mudug regions.
The Problems of Somalia Piracy
The entire above mentioned dilemma caused a piracy revolution inSomaliawaters and Piracy is illegal action that takes place in rivers, seas and oceans, committed by non state actors.
ForSomalia, uprising overthrew the central government in 1991 and this caused the disappearance of Somali state from international community. The lack of state attracts foreign ships to catch fish in the Somali waters.
In addition to that, Somali people have known what is going on around their coasts such as dumping west industrial materials by foreign ships. As a result; dozens of Somalis have died of west toxic from the Somali waters.
But Somalis have realized that they can do nothing against these illegal ships, becauseSomaliadoes not have warships that can guard the Somali waters. Some Somalis organized themselves to drive foreign ships from Somali waters by hijacking them. But asking them ransom is illegal and unacceptable according to the international law.
Indeed, Somalis understand that the piracy is unlawful action according to the international law but most of Somalis believe that Somali people do not have other option rather than protecting the food of their children from foreign looters and expressed their views through local and international media saying that foreign ships have exploited Somali national resources so Somali people have right to defend their national resources by applying the rules of the international law.
Prepared by the Somali Media for Environment, Science, Health and Agriculture (SOMESHA)
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