Failed Rains Prolong Food and Water Shortages in Sanaag Region

Published April 26, 2016 by Abdullatif Osman Abby

Ali Hassan Issa, Hawa Mohamoud Jama and their two children stand in front of their hut in the Sanaag region of Somalia. 

Ali Hassan’s family is among the thousands affected by the drought that hit Bilil area, in northern Somalia. A 45-year old father of nine, Ali makes a living from rearing his livestock, a task he shares with his wife and children.

Before the current drought, his herd totaled around 400 sheep and goats. The animals were a source of meat and milk for his family, and with the money he made from their sale he was able to cater for his family’s needs.

Hard-hit by the worst drought they have encountered in years, Ali now remains with only 100 malnourished animals. 

On the move

Five months ago, Ali moved from Buran village,  hoping to find water and pasture. Unfortunately, all he encountered was more of the same: drought.

“We are affected with severe food shortages and water scarcity,” he says. “Animals don’t have water to drink or a fodder to graze, and they are dying by the hundreds.”

Ali’s family can no longer depend on their animals for cash, meat or milk. And soaring water prices are becoming a growing concern.

Unable to travel the 15 km to the closest source of water, Ali’s family currently buys water from trucks. This exercise has however proved costly and unreliable

Lost dignity

“The younger children have nothing to eat,” adds his nine-year old daughter, Fardus. “They are starving.” The family has been forced to subsist on cheap crops such as maize for their meals.

For someone who used to provide for his family and not rely on others, Ali’s current situation is difficult to accept. And adding to his worries are his piling debts, incurred from moving family and herds from one drought affected area to the next.

"We used a truck to relocate and thus incurred another debt in the hope that we would repay the money in the rainy season, when the livestock market booms,” he added.

Need for humanitarian assistance

Amid the water scarcity situation, and overwhelmed by his debt, Ali appeals for money to buy water.

The impact of the drought in northern Somalia is severe, and high fuel prices and ingrained debt all worsen the humanitarian situation in the Sanaag region. With an expected late arrival of the next rains (Gu’), Ali’s biggest worry now is that water and animal fodder shortages will worsen before they get better.

What you can do

 Adeso is preparing to provide 1,750 families with a cash transfer of $200 to help them meet their immediate food and water needs and be better prepared to recover once the rains come.


$285 could provide Ali’s family with access to food and water for a month