Hand-feeding dying livestock may not save them, says Somali herder

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Weriyaha Ergo ee Boosaaso Faadumo Taxadar oo wareysanaysa Faarax Diiriye Dalmar/Ergo Photo | Radio Ergo correspondent Fatuma Tahadar interviewing Farah Diriye/Ergo

Radio Ergo 10 February, 2017 BARI


(ERGO) - Farah Diriye Dalmar had not eaten for two days when a local drought response team came across him in the remote Wala’ley valley in northern Somalia’s Bari region, where he was gently feeding grass he had picked from under the trees to one of his sheep weakened by hunger and thirst.

“I don’t expect this animal will manage to stand up on its feet and survive, but I want to avoid being getting cursed by just leaving it like this,” Farah told Radio Ergo’s reporter, who was travelling with the drought response team.

Farah himself was so weak he could barely talk. He had no food to cook and was sleeping in the open keeping an eye on his diminished flock of 100 sheep.

Like many Somali herders desperate to find food and water for their livestock, he had migrated eastwards from an area near Buhodle, close to the Ethiopian border in Toghdeer region, in a truck he hired for $2,000. He borrowed the money from members of his community, promising to pay them back when the market value of his animals improved.

But the journey cost him 40 more animals. Twenty five died on the two day journey, and 15 more on arrival exhausted in Bari region.

There were no water catchments or ‘berkeds’ (traditional water stores) in this part of Isku-shuban district and Farah had to pay $1 (Sh 20,000) for each barrel of water he bought from nearby villages with berkeds.

Behind all his worries about his livestock are Farah’s concerns for the survival of his family. In the past three years, he said he had lost 560 goats to the drought.  In migrating to Bari, he has left behind 11 of his children and their mother in their village with little food to survive.

Amino Aw-Isse is another example of the misery inflicted by the drought. Radio Ergo’s reporter found her looking after her six children in a place where there is no shelter. During the day she keeps them under the shade of a tree, at night she covers them with plastic bags to protect them against the cold. She and her children and their surviving 50 goats migrated from rural parts of Elbu in Sanag region, to Nobir valley in Bari’s Isku-shuban district last month.

Amino said she had now found some green pasture for their animals which were recovering some strength but she was worried by the scarcity of water and the lack of shelter they faced. In addition her food stock was dwindling by the day and she had nowhere else to turn for help.

In the past nine months, Amino lost 450 animals in Elbu. She said she had to leave her aging husband behind on the migration trek because he could not walk the long distance.

Last month, the drought response committee led by Mohamed Yusuf Tigey, former governor of Puntland’s Mudug region, distributed food items, utensils, and clothing to stricken pastoralists collected from Bossaso residents.

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