The Drought Prevails, With Little Help In Sight!
While the life of a humanitarian aid worker is often seen as being too emotionally challenging for someone lacking the drive and devotion necessary for this line of work, the same, can be argued to hold true even for the seemingly committed. This has been the case for me for the past three (3) years that I have been working with Adeso.
Of all the overwhelming things one could come across in this field, to me seeing people struggle to get the most basic things that we usually take for granted is the most heart wrenching. Things like food and water.
According the United Nation’s World Food Programme, the number of people at risk of hunger due to the latest drought to hit Somalia had risen to a staggering five (5) million, with 300,000 children facing the risk of malnutrition and possibly starvation.
To the average person and to a certain extent spectators, numbers do not really convey much of anything nor reflect the weight of the actual human suffering on the ground. At the very best, numbers - to most people including myself - are just that; numbers. However, a recent trip from Garowe to Badhan changed all that and has made clear what no number or statistic ever could. What I witnessed went above and beyond figures cited in a report.
I saw people, real people – women, children and men, struggling and impoverished beyond imagination, besieged by 2 years of drought and vulnerable in the face of what certainly is an imminent threat to their lives.
The five hour long trip to Badhan-mostly through rough roads is less than pleasurable but what usually gets me through the journey is watching the changing landscape and scenery. You couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty of the land as it changes its terrain, the color and texture of its soil and a rear view of the thorn bush savanna and grazing pastoral livestock as they fade far away into the distance.
But on this trip traveling through some parts of Nugaal, and Karkaar heading to Sanaag. The land was different - dry and devastated - I have witnessed the grave impact the drought had on some of the pastoral settlements.
The effects of the successive dry spells since 2015 are clearly manifested not only in poor plant growth but also in the severely emaciated animals and livestock deaths that the pastoralists we have encountered told us about. There was no pasture or vegetation in most areas, only vast pasturelands scorched by dryness and heat, and meager dry drought plants that some animals were grazing on.
One of the pastoralists that we came across at Xarkadheere water points in Gabi Valley of Sanaag region told us that this water point is the main source of water for almost 500 pastoral households and their livestock. Only one out of the three shallow wells in this area is functioning now, and approximately 100 pastoralists congregate every day to get water for their livestock.
When we arrived at Xarkadheere, two boys were scraping the little remnants of water at the bottom of the well with a small container.
“It could take 2-3 hours to get one camel the water it needs for that day.” one of the boys told us. “The other two wells have been abandoned. One has dried up and the other is in bad condition.” He added.
The livestock of these pastoral communities are not only dying of hunger, but they are also dying of thirst. Many pastoralists have already lost hundreds of their livestock and the remaining ones are in poor condition, leaving them with very little to survive on.
Pastoral water points such as Xarkadheere are usually where poor pastoralist families who have exhausted all other options and cannot afford to buy water for their livestock get water from. If these families are not provided with immediate food aid and water trucking assistance as a life-saving measure, pastoral livelihoods will be severely affected as they will have neither water nor livestock that can sustain them and their children.
Donate today to support Adeso in our efforts to bring relief to affected families through this drought.