Signs of looming drought as Hiran pastoralists trek to River Shabelle in search of water

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Photo | Pastoralists trek long distances to get water from the river /Photo/ Abdullahi/Ergo

27 March, 2013 BALEDWEYNE


Beletweyne, 26 March 2013: The intensity of the current hot, dry season (Jilaal) has forced many pastoralists in Hiran to trek long distances towards the River Shabelle, seeking water for their animals.

Residents of Hiran report the drying up of many water sources, including springs, streams and catchments. Many of them have been seen in and around Beletweyne, though there are no figures available from local authorities or NGOs as to the estimated numbers involved.

Radio Ergo’s reporter in Beletweyne spoke to a number of pastoralists, who had arrived in the town’s main market, where they had come to trade.  They said members of their rural community had been on the move and walking long distances in search of water and pasture. Throughout March, they had experienced very dry conditions in parts of Hiran.

The places named by the pastoralists as having been particularly hard hit by the drought and currently experiencing severe water shortages and deteriorating pasture include: Qorrax, Baardheere, Xuuble, Geyinsaar, Yabaaryaale, Galxamur, and Afar-irdood, among others.

Adan Elmi Odawa, one of the affected pastoralists now in Beletweyne, said drought was looming and while they were able to find water now near the river Shabelle, they feared there would be worse conditions to come.
The drying up of water sources, some of them not being replenished, may force more and more families to consider leaving the land to seek alternative livelihoods.

Due to the scarcity of water in the countryside, prices have risen sharply. A barrel of water now costs 50,000 Somali Shillings, up from 30,000 Somali Shillings in February. But those who can find water to buy are privileged: there are areas where there is no water available, no matter how much you are prepared to pay.

Usually, in most parts of Somalia, March to May, are the hottest and driest months.

Abdullahi Salad/MG/FM


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