Destitute Somali pastoralists may never return to their rural homes

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Keydka sawirrada/Ergo Photo | File photo/Ergo

Radio Ergo 23 May, 2017 MUDUG

 

(ERGO) - Thousands of pastoralists made destitute by the drought in central Somalia’s Mudug region are opting to stay in and around the urban areas they migrated to despite the onset of rain in their villages.

Abdi Dahir Shirwa, with a family of 11, says he is better off staying in the displacement camp on the outskirts of the city of Galkayo because all his animals died in the drought and there is nothing left for him at home.

“You cannot survive without livestock in the rural areas,” Abdi told Radio Ergo. “A person with some animals left can go back, but what will someone who lost all his animals in the drought do there?”

Abdi lost his entire herd of 300 goats and 10 camels over three consecutive years of drought. He managed to survive towards the end by borrowing from local businessmen and shopkeepers, but once his last animals had died nobody would give him credit any more.

He moved his family from Saqiro village, 200 km south east of Galkayo, to the city last December. Since then he has been living in Arafat IDP camp, where he is currently earning some cash building pit latrines paid for by international NGO, CESVI.

“I am thinking of learning construction skills so I can get work on building sites to support my family here in town instead of going back,” he said.

The minister of humanitarian affairs for Galmudug authority, Shire Hersi Mohamud, told Radio Ergo they have registered 6,166 destitute pastoralist families in IDP camps in Galkayo, Hobyo, Bandndiradly, Ba’adweyne, Wisil, Saddheh-higle, Af-barwaqo and Budbud.

None of these families have a livelihood to go back to in the rural areas.

“The recent rains have not benefited these people because they have no animals to feed on the leaves and the grass that grow as a result of the rain,” the minister said. 

He said his ministry would discuss with the federal government of Somalia and humanitarian agencies ways of restocking the herds of the most impoverished pastoralist families to allow them to back to their villages, or creating jobs for those families who might never leave the towns.

Deko Mohamed Abukar and her family of four live in a hut in Arafat camp where they moved in January. She and her husband have not found any work in town and depend on hand outs from other displaced families. Deko does not want to return to Dagari village, 30 km south of Galkayo, because their livestock all died.

Meanwhile, some pastoralists with animals remaining are moving back to rural areas of Mudug that have received some rain, hoping to be able to rebuild their traditional lives.

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