Somaliland Drought

By Oxfam East Africa

Draught in Somaliland :: Water sources dry up

Water sources dry up.

After nearly 11 months without a drop of rain, all of Waridaad village's traditional water sources dried up. Oxfam partners Havyoco have been trucking in clean water every day. The water is pumped into these community tanks, from where each family queues up to fill their jerrycans.

Ibrahim Harir Deria coordinates Havyoco's water trucking: "We are suffering from consecutive drought. Last year was ok, but before that there was a drought. It is getting more common. The lack of pasture is the father of many things - it causes disease and malnutrition."

"There are four trucking centres in the village, each serving 140 households - so 560 families in total. Each household gets 45 litres of water per day - about 7.5 litres per person."

Draught in Somaliland :: Women collect clean water

Women collect clean water.

Women collect clean water at an Oxfam/Havyoco water trucking site in Waridaad village.

Draught in Somaliland :: Women collect clean water

Women collect clean water.

Faadomo Hirsi and her grandson wheel their daily allowance of two 20-litre jerrycans back to their house. Faadomo's husband died a few years ago and she now looks after seven people - her children, grandchildren and her elderly mother.

"These two cans last us one day - we use the water for cooking, drinking, washing and the animals. I used to have 20 goats, but now there are only five left and even those are very weak. 15 died in the past month. I have to give some of the water to the goats to keep them alive - there is no other place they can get it."

"Most days I buy 500g of rice, 250g of sugar and 250g of flour from the market in the village. With some maize and some tea, that is all we eat nowadays. The prices are always going up. Half a kilogramme of rice costs me $0.80 - in January it cost $0.50."

"Now we eat less - we have two meals a day instead of three. We used to have pasta, dates, milk and meat - now we just have those (above). The children used to drinks lots of milk, but it is no longer available. You can feel the weight of the children getting less each month."
Image: Oxfam East Africa

Draught in Somaliland :: Women collect clean water

Women collect clean water.

A Somaliland policeman helps a woman take her jerry cans home from the water trucking site.

Draught in Somaliland :: Hirsi Farah Ali

Hirsi Farah Ali.

Hirsi Farah Ali, village chairman in Waridaad:

"In the past 12 months there has been no rain at all. This is the worst drought because there is such a lack of water. All the water sources here dried up four months ago. The pasture has gone too. Water and pasture - these are the two things we pastoralists depend on."

"Almost 75 percent of the livestock in the village have died. Many sheep have died. Goats are doing a bit better but they are very weak. Even some of the older pack camels have died. The younger camels are ok, but the elderly and those that are lactating and weak after giving birth last year are very vulnerable."

"Before the drought I had 150 sheep and goats - now I have only 40 left. I had 22 camels, but 15 of them have died. They all died in the past four months from hunger and disease. Some of the camels were starving and started eating some trees they don't usually eat - they got sick as a result. Some of the sheep got diseases in their brain."

Draught in Somaliland :: A camel wanders across the land

A camel wanders across the land.

A camel wanders across the dry and dusty scrubland of Toghdeer region.

Draught in Somaliland :: Carcasses of dead animals

Carcasses of dead animals.

A kilometre outside Waridaad village, carcasses of dead sheep and goats stretch across the landscape.

Draught in Somaliland :: Aden Jama and one of his goats

Aden Jama and one of his goats.

Aden Jama takes one of his few remaining goats out to look for pasture. As the drought has worsened he and his family have lost many of their animals and had to move closer to the village and the water trucking site.

"Before the drought I had 220 sheep and goats and 12 camels. Now I have 40 sheep and goats and three camels left. The rest have died from the lack of water and pasture."

"We used to live 10kms away and come to the village when we needed things. But we've had to move closer and closer as the livestock are getting weaker and can't travel so far."

"This is the first time we've seen this scale - in the last drought a few animals died but most survived. Now they are so weak that if it rains heavily it might kill them - we will have to shelter them in the house or they would die in the rain."

"Our lives depend on our livestock - we have no other skills and there are no other jobs."

"In the past the children had milk from the animals. Now they have nothing. They are still ok for now, but you can see them getting weaker. It is almost six months since they ate meat or vegetables. Relatives send us food - we mainly eat rice twice a day, and sometimes maize, tea, flour and bread."

Draught in Somaliland :: Raewi Awil Araale

Raewi Awil Araale.

Raewi Awil Araale runs a shop in the village with her husband and her 18 year old daughter.

"We sell cereals like maize, rice and flour, as well as bottled water, packets of soap, clothes and cigarettes."

"The prices are going up day by day. I buy in bulk - I phone traders in Burao (the regional capital, about two hours drive away) and they bring what I need by truck. To buy 50kgs of rice costs me $35 - a few months ago it was only $28. I have to charge my customers more as a result. Before I sold them 1kg of rice for $1. Now I charge $1.40."

"The diet is changing. People here usually eat a lot of rice. This is not an agricultural area, so we don't normally eat a lot of maize. Before the drought I rarely even stocked maize - but now it's my main seller. It's much cheaper - I can buy 50kgs for $20 - but people are also buying it now because unlike rice it can feed both humans and animals."

"Four months ago I would sell 50kgs of rice in a couple of days. Now it takes a month to sell that much - people just can't afford it now."

"Sugar is another staple food in Somaliland and one of my main products - it's very hot here and we Somalis use a lot of sugar as a source of energy. We have it in food but also in cups of tea - we drink a lot of tea throughout the day. But the price of sugar has gone up even more than rice. Before I bought 50kgs of sugar for $35 - now the same amount costs me $48. I have to charge my customers $2.50 a kilogramme, instead of $1.60 before."

"I'm selling much less sugar and rice now, and more maize. The other thing that I'm selling more of is bottled water. The demand for water is very high, particularly from people who live outside the village as their usual sources have dried up. I charge $0.83 for a 750ml bottle. It's very expensive but people have no other options."

"But I get very little money - I have to sell a lot on credit. Most of my customers are rural people who depend on their animals and now they don't have any money because of the drought. I give them what they need, and then when it rains - if it rains - and their sheep become strong again they will pay me back."

Draught in Somaliland :: Khadija Acoil with some of the customers

Khadija Acoil with some of the customers.

Mother-of-four Khadija Acoil with some of the customers at her teashop:

"My customers drink tea made with three main ingredients - tea, milk and sugar. I have always used fresh milk, but now there is none available because so many animals have died or become weak. So now I use canned milk. It tastes different and my customers don't like it so much, but I have no choice."

"I have not put my prices up, but instead the quality of my tea has dropped. In each cup I use less sugar, less milk and make the tea weaker."

"I have fewer customers than before and I make less money. People cannot afford to come so often, and sometimes they ask for tea on credit. I used to open all day every day, but now sometimes I have to close the shop because I have no ingredients or no customers."

Draught in Somaliland :: Sandstorm in Somaliland

Sandstorm in Somaliland.

Sandstorm in Somaliland.

Draught in Somaliland :: Sandstorm in Somaliland

Sandstorm in Somaliland.

Sandstorm in Somaliland.

Draught in Somaliland :: Bashe Ahmed Bile collects water

Bashe Ahmed Bile collects water.

45-year-old Bashe Ahmed Bile collects water for his relatives from an Oxfam/Havyoco water pump. Qaryaale went 11 months without any rain, but unlike some of the other villages it is near a river bed - which although dry on the surface still has water in the ground and Oxfam and community wells are still functioning. However this has brought its own challenges, including an influx of people from other villages, using up the scarce pasture:

"People here have lost half of their sheep and goats in the drought. Myself, I used to have 120 animals, but now I only have 45 left."

"Before, when I took my animals to market I used to get $50 for a sheep or a goat, and up to $500 for a camel. Now the animals are so weak and in such bad condition that I cannot sell them for any money at all. I worry they will die but it's just not possible to sell them - nobody will buy."

"All I can do is try and keep them alive, so I spend all my money on maize and fodder. To feed the animals I have to buy one 50kgs sack of maize a day - it costs me $20 every day."

"Every three days I go and collect water, which I give to my relatives and my livestock. So far the well is ok and providing us with water - it goes very deep. But I worry it will run out, and then what happens? 20 villages nearby have run out of water, so they all come here with their animals, their trucks and their jerry cans. About 300 people from other villages have moved here now."

"We have water at least, but the animals are still dying because of the lack of fodder. They don't have anything to eat and starve to death."

Draught in Somaliland :: Water trucks

Water trucks.

Water trucks prepare to set off from Burao, the regional capital, to take clean water to the surrounding villages.

Draught in Somaliland :: Ali Hussein camp

Ali Hussein camp.

Ali Hussein camp is one of several large camps for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) on the edge of Burao town. Some people have come from Mogadishu and South Central Somalia to escape the conflict, others have come because of drought.

Mother-of-five Khadra Suleiman is struggling to cope with the rising cost of living in the camp - particularly the cost of food:

"We've been living here for seven years, since we returned from Ethiopia. We fled to Ethiopia during the civil war, which started in 1988. When the war finished we came home and ended up in this camp. But there are many challenges here."

"We are far from the centre of town and there is no water pipeline here - water is very limited. My husband goes into town every day to look for casual labour - construction, or loading and unloading trucks."

"He makes some money, but the price of food has gone up this year so it is getting harder to feed my family. Especially the price of sugar, rice and vegetables has become very expensive because of the drought."

"I used to buy 1kg of rice for $0.60 - now the same bag costs me $1. A kilo of sugar used to cost me $0.70, but now it is $1.30 from the same shop."

"I like to feed my children vegetables like tomatoes, potatoes, onions and chillies. Tomatoes have doubled in price since January - a kilo used to cost me $0.50 but now it's $1."

"So I buy much less food. A few months ago when I went to the market I would buy 1kg of rice, but now I usually only have enough money for half a kilo. My children eat far fewer vegetables. They used to eat four times a day - breakfast, lunch, dinner and a mid-morning snack at 10am. Now they only get two - just breakfast and lunch. In the evening we do not eat."

"I used to give them milk in the mornings, but now it is not available. Most shops no longer sell any milk at all - there are one or two places that still have it, but it's too expensive for me to buy. Before we ate meat perhaps three times a week - now it is once a week at most. Sheep and goat meat used to cost $4 a kilo - now it is about $9."

"I would not say they are malnourished - at least not yet - but their body weight has dropped and I've noticed they have more coughs and illnesses than before."

Draught in Somaliland :: Ali Hussein camp

Ali Hussein camp.

Mother-of-four Nuura Omar arrived in the Ali Hussein camp on the edge of Burao six weeks ago, after the drought left the family virtually destitute.

"We came here by truck from Ceeldheere village, which is about 40kms away. We came because of the drought, after nearly all our animals died. All I have left is three goats."

"I came with my husband, my two youngest children and the goats. There was nothing left for them to eat or drink. My two eldest children (aged 7 and 8) stayed there with my grandmother - she runs a small tea shop so at least she has some income, and she needs some help in the shop."

"We came here to try and find water and food. I have some relatives here, and other people have also welcomed us and shared some of their food. They also gave us some sticks and old cloth so that my husband and I could make this shelter. There is also more support from the government here than in the villages."

"My husband is a strong man, so he is looking for construction or labouring work in the town. But he has not found any yet."

"We are not thinking of going back - what for? Our livestock are gone - what would we do there?"

Oxfam East Africa
Article by Oxfam East Africa
Oxfam is part of a global movement working against poverty and injustice. In the Horn, East and Central Africa region, we work in ten countries (Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda). You find our blog here, Oxfam East Africa.
The images in this article can also be found on Flickr, Oxfam East Africa on Flickr.

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