Old people abandoned by herder families fleeing drought in SoolPhoto | Radio Ergo reporter Farah Dubad interviewing Awil Shire on 25 October, abandoned by his family fleeing drought/Ergo
(ERGO) - Ninety-year-old Awil Shire had not eaten or drunk for more than 24 hours. He crawled to the side of the main road in a remote part of Sool in northern Somalia hoping that any passing vehicle might stop and help him with food and water.
He was found at a place called Adab Homay after dusk by a local team, accompanied by Radio Ergo’s reporter, who were travelling through the area assessing the impact of the drought.
The team gave Awil some dates and water and after he had recovered some energy he narrated his ordeal.
Awil told Radio Ergo he had been left behind when his family and the rest of the community migrated away in search of water as he was not strong enough to walk a long distance.
There was no food or water in El-weyn, five km from Awrbogays, so he and his wife walked for two days asking for help along the way. When he could walk no more, his wife left him under a tree early in the morning to go and look for water for him and their four remaining goats but as darkness fell she had not come back.
The team members loaded Awil and his goats onto their vehicles. After driving some distance they came across Asha Omar, 60, Awil’s wife, with the rest of their animals beside the road. Asha was thankful to see her husband and explained that after failing to find water she had gone back to look for him under the tree where she had left him only to find him gone.
Asha said her husband had been strong enough to help her mind the animals until he weakened dramatically two weeks ago due to prolonged starvation. As conditions worsened in El-weyn one of their sons fled the area with the family’s seven remaining camels and the other son took off for Buhodle.
The couple were left to look after their 50 goats and to fend for themselves. The goats had not had any water for five days.
“We will just be here waiting for God. The animals cannot walk and we do not have money to hire a vehicle,” she told Radio Ergo’s reporter, when asked what they were going to do.
Awil and his wife have seen the family fortunes gradually whittled away by consecutive drought over the past two years, with the loss of 43 camels and 200 goats.
The team left the couple with four litres of water and two kilos of dates.
The reporter visited Jidbale, Awr-bogeys, Lafweyne, Ardaa, Shimbirale, Biyo-gadud, Kulal, Dararweyne and other areas in Sool and Sanag regions. He saw four elderly people, including one woman, who had been left behind because they could not walk the long distances with the rest of the people who migrated away from the area.
Local people reported that they knew of 16 other people, including some children, who were also left behind in drought-stricken areas by fleeing herders.