Drought-hit herders in Mudug drawn to out-of-reach water well

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Keydka sawirrada/Ergo Photo | File photo/Ergo

Radio Ergo 14 October, 2016 HOBYO


(ERGO) - As drought bites in many parts of Somalia, the existence of a water well near Gawan – in rocky terrain in a remote part of Mudug region - has proven to be both a blessing and a curse.

Maryan Ahmed Hassan, 40, and her family of eight children are among the 400 pastoralist families who migrated to Gawan when the underground water reservoirs (berkads) in their area dried up after 18 months without sufficient rain.

But the huge influx of livestock to Gawan, attracted by the promise of water, led to overgrazing. Most of the few animals these people had left became so weak that they are now unable to walk the 15 km across a barren stretch of land to be watered at the well.

Maryan’s family was among a number of distressed herders transported to Gawan from Habasweyne village, 10 km away, by vehicles sent by Gawan residents.  They had all lost livestock in the drought. Maryan’s family herd was reduced from 180 goats to just seven.

It is ironic that the well outside Gawan is now beyond their reach. However, they are grateful that the local community and administration of Gawan is trucking water to them every two days. Each family is rationed to a 20 litre jerry can.

Maryan’s family is managing to cook  just one meal of rice and beans a day. She has built a small shelter on open land and sells tea. She makes at most around 30,000 Somali shillings ($1) a day. Her husband is gathering firewood to sell in town and may make $2 every two days.

Abdi Osman Hersi, spokesman of Gawan administration, told Radio Ergo they were using eight  tankers to deliver water to the affected people. The administration was purchasing the fuel and the water on credit, hoping to pay back later after a funds drive among the local residents.

Another of the stranded pastoralists, Khalif Mohamed Ahmed, is eking out a living selling firewood he fetches from long distances away.  He earns 70,000 Somali shilling, less than $3, enabling him to buy a kilo of sugar at 30,000 Somali shillings and rice at a similar amount.

Khalif, a father of four, lost all his 70 cows over the last four months.

Abdullahi Ahmed Ali, district commissioner of Hobyo in Galmudug, said there are an estimated 90,000 people who have been forced to shift due to drought to the coastal areas of Mudug region.

Those displaced are from areas like Qaranrow, Laan-xarar, San-ku-yaal, El-Du’ale, Armale and Saqiro where no rain came in April.

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