Somaliland: Leaving behind whatever dies as drought hits (IRIN News)

| May 2, 2016

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In Somaliland, pastoralists must travel further and further afield to find grazing land. Two consecutive rainy seasons have failed in this northern part of Somalia, and also in Puntland to the east. The failed rains are a result of El Niño, and the April to June forecast predicts little rain.

Muhumed Abdi is from Gerisa village in the Selel region. He says: “People are walking from the Guban plateau … toward the southern Ogo [mountains] after they lost all their animals…. They are leaving behind whatever dies—whether human being or animal.”

Hamda Osman is from the village of Bus in Gabiley region. She lost her entire herd and has little food for her family. She says, “The last one of my 18 cattle passed away last night, and we are running out of foodstuffs because we used to feed it our stored sorghum.”

More than 380,000 people are facing hunger in the Somaliland and Puntland regions, just north of Ethiopia. People are suffering from hunger, disease, and high rates of malnutrition.

Aden Buhane is a member of Awdal region’s drought response committee. He says, “We are worried about the agro-pastoralists in Somaliland because they lost their animals in the drought and they finished their stored food.”

Hamse Qualinle is another resident of Bus who is worried about his family’s future. His savings have declined and his livestock are suffering. He explains: “In [March 2014], I had $200 savings, 10 [50-kilogram] sacks of sorghum, and 20 cattle. But this year I have only five cattle, which need to be fed like children. It will be difficult to survive if [the] rains do not come very soon.”

But food shortages aren’t the only problem. Outbreaks of disease are also threatening families. There has been a measles outbreak in eastern Somaliland, with 29 cases confirmed in Buhoodle in the Togdheer region, on the border with Puntland.

Mohamoud Omar Yabe is the coordinator of the Public Health Department in Awdal region. He says pastoralists affected by the drought are migrating into the area, and the influx is encouraging the spread of disease.

He adds, “Other diseases have broken out, including diarrhea, cough, [and] pneumonia, and this is complicating [the situation for] the vulnerable children affected by the drought.”

For the pastoralists, traveling to find grazing land may seem like the best option. But others are turning their hand to whatever they can do to make ends meet.

Husein Abdillahi is a father of five who lives in Bus. He explains, “After we lost our animals in the drought and our stored food ran out, we started to burn the trees for charcoal, which we sell in the market to feed our families.”

To read the full article on which this story is based, Leaving behind whatever dies, go to: