Families on the constant move amidst a prolonged drought in Somalia
May 2022---The drought across Somalia and Somaliland has continued to unleash severe hardships for both humans and animals. The extreme dry conditions have forced families to constantly be on the move in a desperate search for water, food and pasture.
As the drought ravages on, pastoralists are worried that soon all their animals will be gone.
Mohamed Ahmed, 48 years old has six children and 100 sheep and goats to feed.
When he started noticing the body conditions of his livestock declining, he knew it was time to move to a location he heard had received some rains
Mohamed and his family started their journey from the Sanag region in Somaliland, where they had stayed for four years, to Burtinle district in Somalia. A journey that took four long days.
If he had had enough money to spare, he would have hired a truck to transport his family and animals to their destination. Unfortunately for Mohamed, it was too costly. Livestock being his only source of livelihood, the drought has hit the family hard. Income from the sale of his goats and sheep is no longer guaranteed.
Every drought cycle, pastoralists like Mohamed are forced to migrate from one place to another in a desperate search for water and pasture for their livestock.
Staying behind is never an option, he says. “It is a gruelling journey he is fully aware of that, but remaining behind is almost like surrendering to death,” he says, noting how the health of his children was slowly deteriorating with no milk and no food.
The drought is threatening Mohamed’s remaining 80 goats and 20 sheep. He has already lost 76 goats and sheep, some during the difficult journey.
“It was painful seeing the animals, drop one after another,” Mohamed says, recalling how he had to sell some goats at a throw-away price along the way in order to buy food for his hungry family.
But this did not always work, as the animals were too weak and the traders at the market wouldn’t accept them. To make matters worse, during these times of the drought, prices have declined sharply due to the livestock's weakened body conditions.
Mohamed’s family is among many families forced to reduce their meals to one a day just to get by.
None of Mohamed’s children are currently in school. It is not a priority now. Furthermore, with the constant migration during drought cycles, he thinks the children lack the stability they need to stay in school. He sees raising the needed school fees as a great hindrance for him.
Like many parts of Somalia and Somaliland, some rains were reported in Burtinle but they were hardly sufficient. Residents are yet again, staring at another period of extreme dry conditions characterised by severe water, food and pasture shortages.
For now, Mohamed and his family have settled in Burtinle albeit temporarily. If the conditions here become extremely unfavorable, it will be a matter of time before he is on the move yet again.
Chief- Godob Yar says his village has attracted so many pastoralists from as far as neighbouring Ethiopia when it rained recently. “When people came here recently, they did so with large herds of livestock but the resources are very few,” Chief Yar says.
World Vision has been providing clean water to residents through emergency water trucking as part of its drought response to address widespread acute water scarcity.
“The people here are welcoming. We cannot turn away people choosing to come here. But the resources like water are very limited and they are quickly dwindling,” he adds
Article by Patrick Gwayi, Communications Officer for World Vision Somalia