Donors warned not to reduce aid to Somalia because of recent rain

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Keydka Sawirrada Ergo Photo | File photo/Ergo

Radio Ergo 18 May, 2017 PUNTLAND


(ERGO) - Donors, aid agencies and well-wishers are being urged not to reduce their support to drought-hit Somali herders because of recent rain in parts of the country, as the situation remains extremely fragile.

The rain has had little impact on the lives of pastoralists because the livestock will take at least six months to recover, according to Abdullahi Abdirahman Eyrow, the head of Puntland’s Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management Agency (HADMA).

Eyrow warned that stopping or reducing aid now would have a disastrous effect, as huge numbers of animals have died and those that remain do not produce any milk or meat for people to survive on.

The drought has continued for three years, wiping out large herds of camels, cattle, sheep and goats.  

“The people need aid until the animals become beneficial to them or are fit for sale in at least six months, or until the animals can give birth and start producing milk again. The goats take the least amount of time to recover, which is five months at the earliest,” said Eyrow.

Abdi Jama Warsame, a father of 18, is rearing 30 goats and 10 camels that survived from his original herd of 700 goats and camels in Meyle village, 120 km south of Garowe.  He said he gains no financial benefit from his animals at the moment, as they are thin and produce no milk. None of his animals has given birth for the past three years.

“Now we are not expecting them to conceive. The earliest that we can expect them to get pregnant is the next Gu season, if it rains well,” Warsame said.

Abdullahi Awil, in Gal’ad village, 40 km from Taleh in Sool region, returned with his family from Isku-shuban district in Bari region in mid-April. He told Radio Ergo that 120 sheep that became pregnant while he was in Bari died. At the same time many of his goats miscarried. The animals will not be able to reproduce until they are stronger.

Awil has 150 goats remaining from the 300 he owned before the drought. He fears that his family might not survive until the next Gu rainy season when any animals conceiving now would be producing milk and others would be ready to be sold for meat.

“Now we are not afraid to lose animals, but it is us and our children who are afraid due to the hunger and cold,” he told Radio Ergo.

Awil has a debt of $2,500 he borrowed from businessmen he know to pay for his family’s basic needs and to transport his animals in search of pasture and water.  He does not see how he can replay that in the immediate future.

Recent rain has filled many water reservoirs in Puntland and a little grass has grown that can keep the animals alive. However, HADMA warns that aid should not be linked to the rain as food shortages loom and recovery will be a complex process.

According to Puntland’s interior ministry, 20,000 drought-displaced people have arrived in towns in Puntland between November last year and February this year.

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