Drought-affected families arriving north of HargeisaPhoto | File photo/Radio Ergo
(ERGO) - Desperate pastoralists fleeing drought-stricken areas of Somaliland with their remaining livestock have been arriving at villages in Darasalam, one of the Somaliland-designated districts around 160 km north of Hargeisa.
The local administration secretary in Darasalam, Fu’ad Sheikh Ibrahim, told Radio Ergo by phone that he estimated 15,000 families had gathered in villages in the district.
He said they had managed to distribute a small amount of food given by the Somaliland authorities to the people who had arrived.
Those arriving appear to be coming from various places, including some who had walked from south-west of Hargeisa, bypassing the city to get to Darasalam hoping for assistance.
There were other sources immediately available to ascertain the numbers of people involved.
Radio Ergo’s local reporter spoke by phone to Abdirahman Bihi, one of the herders who arrived in Darasalam from a village called Abdisamad, 62 km south-west of Hargeisa.
“We have not eaten anything for five days while we were on our way here. We were not expecting to arrive safely because of the hunger we were suffering on the way,” he said. He added that 33 of his heads of cattle had died on the way because of lack of pasture.
An overall estimated 80,000 nomadic pastoralist families are affected by severe drought in Awdal, Togdheer and other parts of western Somaliland, according to Somaliland government officials.
The director of Somaliland’s Natural Disasters Management Authority, Mohamed Muse Awale, told Radio Ergo that the affected families did not have enough food to survive for long, as already their livestock were dying in large numbers due to lack of pasture and water.
Rains have failed for two consecutive years and the effects of drought started to become more evident from October last year.
“Some of the children in these families are suffering from malnutrition and are at risk of dying from the malnourishment,” Mohamed said.
He described seeing many people whose livestock had already been wiped out. He spoke of one man he met who had only one surviving cow out of a herd of 30 head of cattle.
“We don’t have all the real figures of the animals that have perished as some of them died while being driven towards distant places for water and pasture by the herders,” he said.
He warned of dire humanitarian catastrophe if spring rains (Gu’) failed in the coming months of March and April. He appealed to the aid agencies to assist the people who were affected.