With long periods of no rains and not any on sight, the risk of losing all his livestock and no one to turn to, Barre’s life was fast becoming a pale shadow of itself.
“I had over one hundred camels and 1000 goats but the drought has reduced them into a little and skinny heard which has even become a burden to me because we are both fighting for survival. I have 134 children and grandchildren; all of whom are dependent on me. I have never seen such a drought before.’
Such were the few words of Abdullahi Barre, a man in his late eighties whose energy and stamina has been sapped by a biting drought which is sweeping through from the north to the central and southern Somalia as livestock perish in numbers and families forced to move en mass to evade death.
Goobjoog News correspondents across the country spent days documenting the impact of the drought which the UN and international humanitarian agencies say has plunged about 5 million people into a food crisis and threatens to clear livelihoods in many parts of the country.
“We found Abdullahi Barre in Las Anod lost in thoughts as his camels and goats succumbed to the droughts and the prospects of any help not forthcoming. With long periods of no rains and not any on sight, the risk of losing all his livestock and no one to turn to, Barre’s life was fast becoming a pale shadow of itself,” Farah Dubad, Goobjoog News correspondent recounts.
The sight of donkey staring at almost six others lying dead and a barely three year old kid walking alone in the middle of a sandy compound in the wake of death in the family running starkly juxtaposed with reports of a single vote trading for $1.3 million in the ongoing elections could not the more betray the wishes of families pushed to the edges of death by a devastating drought.
We walked for four days without food. My livestock are so emaciated no one wants to buy them,” Barre laments.
Boreholes have dried up while the only remaining one serves the whole community around which have to balance the valuable between man and camel. Those who have means are packing their possessions and moving away for fear of the intensifying effects of the drought.
In Burco, located in Togdheer region, dozens of goats which seem to have recently died lay on the roads while carcasses of other goats which may have died in the no so distant past could be seen in other places.
Across to Puntland, the script is the same. Bander Bayla locality commissioner Said Adan Ali told Goobjoog News the situation was getting worse with at least four people succumbing to the drought in the last one week. “A father and his two children died this week and we have also just received news of the death of an elderly woman,” said Ali.
The official said the area had not received rain for several months leading to marginal or no harvests adding as a result, people and animals are dying. The government of the regional state of Puntland is however trying its best to mobilise resources to save people from starvation, Ali noted.
In Mahas district which lies in the border of Hiiraan and Galgadud regions, about 8000 families are spread in makeshift camps trying to eke a living after fleeing the hunger from Mudug, Galgadud and Middle Shabelle regions.
Ali Hashi 30, moved with his family and remaining 50 goats from Galgadud. “We paid $700 to motorists and other people on the way to help us move to this place since the situation was fast degenerating and no help was coming our way,” said Hashi who now herds the remaining 50 goats in Teedan village.
Halima Abdi who lives in Sindhoobo village shares a similar story with Hashi’s family. She says out of the 500 goats she had, only one hundred remain. Halima moved from Adado in Galgadud, Galmudug state to look for pasture for her goats and a livelihood for herself.
“We met a family begging on the roadside with nothing left of them. In other places, children looked hungry and emaciated as their parents tried to put up some makeshift shelters. Most of the people were dropped on the roadside from vehicles plying the road and from there they would try to find their own means to survive,” Goobjoog News correspondent in Hiiraan Khalid Ilkaase said.
Across Teedaan, Raqso, Hees, Coomaad, Bukure, Ina Baal and Galoowribad villages, the narrative is the same-people are struggling to find the least they can get for the day from few humanitarian agencies who are also overwhelmed by the amount of needs.
In Gedo southern Somalia, one of the hardest places also, families are moving to urban centres as the drought persists. Mohamed Kureed Wareysi just arrived in El Wak some 65 kilometres away from his home in Kunturgambo. “We have been begging people for food and water along the way between El Wak and Bardhere and now we have to queue from 3.30 pm to 8pm to buy water which costs $25 a drum,” said Wareysi. Families with donkeys could be seen moving with their belongings in search of humanitarian help.
This report was compiled by Omar Serbia, Khalid Ilka-Case, Farah Dubad and Goobjoog News correspondent in Gedo region. Edited by Roble Ibrahim