03 Aug COVID-19 AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS IN SOMALIA
Covid-19 and Environmental Impact: Somalia Story
Prepared by SIEP
The covid-19 pandemic is a crisis that affects everyone. On 19 March 2020 – the UN Secretary General stated that in his call for solidarity “We are facing a global health crisis unlike any in the 75-year history of the United Nations — one that is spreading human suffering, infecting the global economy and upending people’s lives” He add we have a framework for action – the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. We must keep our promises for people and planet.”. Among the key priorities issues that he underlined were; first tackling the health emergency, and second, focus on the social impacts and the economy response and recovery.
Somalia confirmed the first case of Covid-19 on 16th March, 2020. “we want to inform the Somali people that today march 16, 2020 we can confirm the first case of coronavirus”. Said Health Minister Fawzia Abikar in televised conference. Somalia is the among first countries in east Africa confirmed by covid-19 case.
Covid-19 seems to be declining in Somalia but Somali people need to recall and deepening the understanding of the origin of the Covid-19 outbreak and its transmission pathway are rise of the diseases passed from animals to humans (Zoonotic Diseases), as the world continues to see unprecedented destruction of the wild habitats by the human activity. “Nature is sending us a message with the coronavirus pandemic and the ongoing climate crisis” according to the UN’s environment chief, Inger Andersen and other environmental experts. covid-19 calls urgent action to protect people and nature. The key reflection articles published among are;
- Nature is sending us a message: Biodiversity loss and wildlife trade as causes of pandemics – German Ministry for the Environment (BMU) | John Scanlon | 29 June 2020
- How deforestation helps deadly viruses jump from animals to humans⦁ | Amy Y. Vittor, Gabriel Zorello Laporta, Maria Anice Mureb Sallum | The Conversation | 25 June 2020
- How regulation of endangered wildlife trade can prevent the next pandemic⦁ | Ivonne Higuero (CITES) | South China Morning Post | 21 June 2020
- COVID 19: urgent call to protect people and nature | WWF | June 2020
Somalia is one of the severely affected countries by COVIC-19 socially, economically and environmentally, Somalia’s economy was much reliant on the livestock export to the middle east which gives so many people a casual jobs during export and transporting, these gives government hard currency and good deal of revenue, but as a result of this pandemic Almost all supply chain were interrupted and most of the countries Somalia use to export from the goods restricted movement of the goods and services which gave Somalia hard time to maintain supply.
Increase of charcoal production after LPG supply cut off.
As Somalia has banned charcoal exports to the middle in accordance with UNSC resolution on the ban of import and export of Somali charcoal, as set out in paragraph 22 of its resolution 2036 (2012) (“the charcoal ban”) , but during this period of time the charcoal production has increased due to casual labour market decreasing, this pushed people to clear the forest and produce charcoal for living and that accelerated by the limited supply of LGP imported from Gulf which even was much higher expensive than charcoal but afforded households preferred because of the cleanness only
“Since COVID-19 come to our shores we have experienced shortage of LPG for cooking due to limited supply by the commercial companies, we shifted to charcoal because of the availability and price” said by one of the Mogadishu households.
Due to interruption of the country economy so many young people and labour immigrants lost their jobs and daily wages, mainly construction and service industry after the government lockdown, Somali government couldn’t afford to support families of those who lost their jobs due to country economic fragility and lack of social protection programs
Improper waste management left on the environment.
Tackling covid-19 has generated to a pandemic of plastics pollutions and protection equipment on the environment. For instance, used masks, and burial equipment clothes are seen everywhere s in the country. Covid-19 health care workers need to get adequately protective equipment nevertheless it must safely disposal measures are paramount with safe handling.
The Biodiversity Crisis
Due to uncertainty of face to face meetings and restrictions of movement, number of international and regional meetings of negotiation of and other preparatory meetings on “post-2020 Biodiversity Framework’ and other efforts to bring solutions have been postponed brought worries as we are loosing critical time and comments to address the biodiversity.
Pushing back on environmental laws and policies
For instance, some of the key actions and milestones in 2020 by Somalia government among; were to finalize the National environmental act, climate change policy and other regulations to safeguard and protect the environment has significantly challenges posed by an unprecedented covid-19 calling postponement of endorsement meetings by the cabinets and consultations from the endogenous and local people. This time of writing would have been endorsed and operationalizing rather than waiting for endorsement and further discussions.
Somalia has declared a national emergency as large swarms of locusts spread across east Africa on early February 2020, few weeks before the Covid-19 first case is confirmed. The ministry of agriculture said that the insects, which consumes large amounts of vegetation, posed “a major threat to Somalis fragile food security situation”.
While the country’s situations were fragile combination of floods, and locust infestation covid-19 has made situation worse for impacting the response measures and interventions addressing to these persistent and recurrent problems in the country.
Somali Institute for Environmental Peace (SIEP) in collaboration with the government agencies is committed to collect adequate data on the effects of the pandemic in Somalia particularly Environment sector, availability of the data is always scare with so many contradicted information which is not filtered by relevant authorities, therefore SIEP has suggested following actions to be taken in order to reduce the severity of the pandemic towards our nature.
The government with the support of local and international development partners has to develop a study of the practices of intergovernmental bodies with regards to virtual and online meetings, applying rules of procedure to such meetings, and identifying barriers and reforms.
Greene energy supply
Somali government and international development partners has to be committed supporting sectors to recover from COVID-19 by focusing on sustainable consumption and production, green and decent jobs and just transitions for employees and sectors impacted most by shifts to greener and more sustainable economies.
SIEP is working in collaboration with governments and nongovernmental organizations to mitigate the adverse impacts on global environment from the increase of waste produced in response to the crisis, through controlling releases of harmful chemicals in the atmosphere, land and water.
COVID-19 Waste management Factsheets
In addition, development of factsheets is essential to assist policy makers and stakeholders respond to the Covid-19 waste in support of response and recovery efforts to build back better.
Charcoal production increase is a sign of environmental degradation by deforesting already damaged forest cover in Somalia, which could devastate and destroy the few remaining forest Areas of the country if the COVID-19 continue.