Displaced Somali farmers ask for seeds to plant to take advantage of the current rains

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Maryan Cumar oo hor fadhida aqalka ay ka deggan tahay xerada Sayidka/Munasar Maxamed/Ergo Photo | Displaced farmer Maryan Omar in Sayidka camp/Munasar Mohamed/Ergo

Radio Ergo 09 May, 2017 MUQDISHO


(ERGO) - Now that rain has come to parts of drought-wracked Somalia, Maryan Omar Ali and her five-year-old daughter spend miserable nights in their makeshift house in Sayidka IDP camp, south of Mogadishu.

Every time there is a downpour the roof and sides leak and water floods in across the bare earth floor, soaking them and their few belongings.

Maryan wishes she was back home on the family’s small farm in Bardere, in the southern Somali region of Gedo. However, she would need help to recover from the drought that killed her herd of 25 goats and eight cows and drove her off the parched smallholding to flee to the capital.

She is among a large number of displaced farmers from the south, who are asking for seeds and tools in order to benefit from the current 'Gu' season rains to resume their livelihood.

“To plant my farmland is the only way I can get out of poverty,” Maryan told Radio Ergo, whose farm is in Anyole, 35 km from Bardere.

“I don’t have any work and the last time aid was distributed in this camp was four months ago, before I arrived. I have to eat with other families [who received some food aid].”

Maryan’s experience in Mogadishu has been horrendous.

Her seven-year-old son died of diarrhoea in April. Her 22-year-old son, who was mentally ill, died of head injuries after being involved in a fight with a group of street boys.

Another displaced farmer, Saedo Sheikh Mohamed, has been living since January in Aragsan IDP camp in Howlwadag district of Mogadishu with her 12 children. She also longs to go home.

“It is unfortunate that the rain we have longed for is falling over our heads, while we do not have shelter that can protect us from it, and cannot take advantage of it to plant our farms,” Saedo said.

She told Radio Ergo she used to harvest 36 sacks of maize and sesame in a good rainy season, as well as pumpkins and other vegetables to sell.  The last time she planted was seven months ago.

Banadir regional administration opened an office in April to register drought-displaced people arriving in the city. Officials have been visiting the IDP camps registering daily arrivals and compiling lists of those who have been there for several weeks or months. The local authority is planning to mobilize efforts to provide tents and land for them to settle on temporarily. So far 140 tents have been distributed to newly arrived displaced families.

Yusuf Mohamud Sheikh Ahmed, head of registration of IDPs, told Radio Ergo that in the past two weeks they have registered 450 families who are requesting to be returned to Lower Shabelle and Bay regions. 

The office cannot provide the assistance required but says it will share the list with the national drought response committee.

Sheikh Noor Barud Gurhan, chairman of the national drought response committee, told Radio Ergo that returning the IDPs to their original homes and assisting farmers and pastoralists who lost everything to the drought is the main item of discussion in their recent meetings.

The committee plans to extend its activities, which were focused on providing aid to those in drought-hit areas,  to include resettling and supporting the drought-displaced families who want to go home.  

Sheikh Noor confirmed that 15,000 people had arrived in Mogadishu since January, famers and pastoralists, mainly from Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Bay and Bakool regions.

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