Under the Textile Hut; Children are Desperate At The Center of the Drought.
By Omar Dahir
It has become a normal scene in my field visits of late, passing through the drought-affected north eastern region of Sanaag, Somalia. Moving through hundreds of animal corpses scattered in many areas and mass pastoral migration. However this time during my trip, I came across a recently established pastoral dropout settlement in Xadhka dheere area.
The scene is far different from the nearby crowded towns in the region. It is the beginning of desperate pastoral dropout generation and an utterly destitute juncture. This unusual settlement is not an interim stay for the newly-arrived dropouts; but it has water, obliging them to stay. The main population of the camp is women and children who look weak and facing malnutrition.
After hours trying to convinve the community elders to talk to us, they were able to open up and talk about the drought crisis and shared their challenges.
As we interview the community members for drought updates, I see three children sitting under a hut made of discarded textile; the sun rays penetrating through. Apart from the hot climate, food, and water scarcity camp elders revealed that children had a story to tell too.
“Our mother passed away a year ago and dad went out with the remaining livestock in search of water and pasture. I am left to take care of my siblings’’ Said 12-year-old Awo, the eldest of the children.
It gets complicated when families are disintegrated and the children are left alone in the villages without parental support.
‘’We had over 90 heads livestock and when they started dying, our father decided to leave us here and look for pasture to save the remaining 20’’ Awo anxiously added.
The children’s situation was the most depressing we came across that day. Sadly, there has been a prevalence of child-led households across all drought-affected areas. The unrestrained communal bond keeps the children going, though the situation is awful. Nonetheless, the destitute cannot help fellow impoverished children.
‘’In the evening, we have to bear the cold. Sometimes when we fear being attacked by wild animals, we join our neighbor friends and sleep there.’’ Awo added.
This protracted drought situation has caused not only pastoralist’s food insecurity but also harmful implications to the family institution in communities. If the drought condition persists, it will have a considerable consequence to the lives of pastoralists; especially the women and children.
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