Another Rainless Year Throws Hawa’s Family into a Vicious Cycle of Poverty
Published March 17, 2016 by Muna Ali
65-year-old Hawa Mohamed Omar sits with her daughter-in-law and 10 grandchildren as they wait for her husband and elder son to return. The two men went to nearby Meeladeen village to ask for a loan to buy food and water for their family and animals.
A month ago, Hawa’s husband was denied credit by the local shops as well as the shallow-well owner. They hope this time things will be different. Meanwhile, Hawa sits praying that the two men will come back with something to feed the children.
An unfolding humanitarian crisis
The failure of two consecutive rainy seasons has left Hawa’s family and many others from northern Somalia with very little to survive on. Out of the 600 goats and sheep they had this time last year, only 50 weak ones have survived.
“When there isn’t enough pasture and water to sustain the livestock, they become weak and susceptible to diseases and they start dying in their tens leaving us without assets, meat or milk to sustain ourselves,” explains Hawa.
“In the past four months alone, 200 of our livestock perished as a result of the drought and diseases. As pastoralists, we are often trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty whenever a drought like this one hits us,” she adds with a feeble cracking voice..
Hawa has been sick for approximately three months now, suffering from a recurring pain in her chest. Unfortunately, her family cannot afford to go see a doctor.
“We have been cutting down on food rations, and the children are suffering. To see a doctor about my illness means traveling to Bosaso and with all the expenses involved and lack of money, that’s not an option.”
Selling only one or two goats would have provided Hawa and her family with a small respite in such trying times, and allowed her to seek medical attention. But since November 2015, their livestock has been so weak that nobody has been willing to buy them.
In search of water and pasture
As though Hawa didn't have enough on her mind, she is also facing severe water shortages. The closest water point to the village is a privately owned shallow-well approximately 12 km away. But since her family cannot travel that distance without paying for transport to carry their filled jerry cans, they have to buy water from trucks that deliver water twice a month. The price of a water barrel has recently more than doubled from USD 3 to USD 6.5, making it unsustainable to buy enough water to meet their needs.
Access to water and food are among the most basic human rights, and thousands of children, women and men are in desperate need of instant relief. Appropriately in form cash to be able to purchase food, water and seek medical attention.
What you can do
HELP FAMILIES LIKE Hawa's WHO ARE SUFFERING EVERY DAY AS A RESULT OF THIS DROUGHT AND FOOD CRISIS.