Ministry of Interior, Federal Affairs and Democratization
Puntland has a fragile and vulnerable environment with persistent droughts, intermittent floods and other man-made disasters. But in recent years, as the impacts of extreme droughts have begun to have a devastating effect, partially because of the climate change, already stressed communities have been pushed to the limit of their adaptation and coping capacity. Puntland economy is mainly dependent on livestock and agriculture; and in the case of the most common climate-related shocks (such as drought and flood), households generally experience reduced income and production, largely related to a decline in weather-dependent activities, such as farming and livestock production both of which are rain dependent. This usually causes a devastating direct effect on large numbers of Puntland communities and ultimately on the whole country. Local governments representing districts administrations are very well positioned to manage these disasters and try to reduce disaster risk in local areas, since they are familiar with (and sometimes responsible for) both the disaster risks experienced, as well as the resources and opportunities available to identify and manage those risks. Similarly, in the areas that are prone to disasters, it is critical that intergovernmental responsibilities be delineated clearly and understood at all levels of government.
In the context of Puntland, several reasons can be mentioned to rationalize the need of local governments to play a major role in disaster risk management:
• The Local Governments are responsible for everything in their districts through the mayors and District Commissioners who are elected.
• Disasters are often local events and therefore local knowledge and measures are required which are tailored to local hazards and vulnerabilities.
• State level disaster management authorities, such as Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management (MOHADM) are centrally organized and are unable to provide effective help in an emergency, particularly to the localities, rural populations and therefore the endangered areas must rely on their own local capabilities to protect their populations.
• Also, quite often it is the society which increases the disaster risk by way of soil degradation through animal over-grazing, deforestation for charcoal businesses, unsafe settlements on dangerous valleys and slopes etc. and therefore the society should be made more aware of the dangers and made accountable for disaster risk management. Puntland Disaster Management Agency, HADMA has such a system of spreading disaster related messages, but are unable to ensure that the communities receive the messages and actually comply.
Practically, Puntland local governments are under pressure to ensure social security and services to the increasing number of people who have settled in the towns, those forced to move from areas affected by drought, conflict and the displaced people crossing from the borders of the neighbouring countries. The protection of all such groups against climate-related shocks, the ability to help them to manage risks, and provide them with opportunities to overcome problems of inequality, vulnerability, exclusion and resilience – these are all important challenges that local governments can and should help to address.
In their mandates, stated in LG Law No. 7, Puntland local governments currently deal with all types of emergencies and disasters, including droughts and floods. Local governments also serve the key functions of ensuring a link between local, community-based organizations, regional bodies and central government authorities. The implementation of DRM in local areas also relies on the central government establishing a State level strategy that enables decentralized decision-making, and provides resources for local planning, assessment and intervention. However, it is at the local level that development planning first takes place and the integration between DRM and development is supposed to be realized.
Considering those compounding effects of the recurrent drought and the exposure to floods, the vulnerability of Puntland local institutions with regard to such disasters, and the insufficient capacity to respond to these emergencies, there is a strong strategic rationale, as well as clear stakeholder demand, for JPLG III to enhance the overall emergency preparedness and response capacity of local government structures throughout the country.