Dadaab refugees hit by drought and livestock deaths

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Seyladda xoolaha ee Boorama/Keydka sawirrada Photo | File photo/Ergo

Radio Ergo 17 February, 2017 DADAAB


(ERGO) - Habibo Farah Awil, 40, used to earn a living from buying and selling livestock in the Somali refugee camps in Dadaab in north-eastern Kenya, but the widespread drought has put paid to her small business and left her in deepening debt.

Habibo, a divorced single mother, is now finding it hard to feed her eight children.  She recently bought five goats in Dagahaley market hoping to make a quick resale, but they all died - leaving her with a loss of 23,000 Kenya Shilling ($230). 

The Kenyan government has declared the drought a national disaster. The worsening drought has left neighbouring Somalia on the brink of famine.

For the past three weeks Habibo, a refugee, has been visiting the market every day but coming home without having made a deal.  All the animals are in poor condition – despite being able to access free water in the refugee camps, there is no food or pasture for the animals, and many of the animals have died.

Food rations in the camps were cut by 50 per cent at the end of last year due to a lack of donor funding. Habibo badly misses the 1,500 Kenya shillings ($15) she used to make on a good day at the market from the sale of animals.

Over the last two months she has been forced to rely on food taken on credit from one of her relatives, who is a grocery shop owner. 

Dagahaley market is the second largest in Garissa County and serves as the backbone of trade in the other markets in the camps.  The regional drought has taken its toll on everybody’s livelihood in the Somali refugee camps, as well as on the local communities in north-eastern Kenya.  Ahmed Osman Ali, who manages the market, said barely 200 small animals, mostly in very poor condition, come to the market these days compared to over 1,000 camels, goats and cows previously.

Abdirahman Hersi Aadan, a clothes merchant in Ifo camp, said he used to be able to earn $40 on a good day when the second hand clothes business was booming. His business had suffered first from the exodus of Somali refugees leaving for Somalia under the voluntary repatriation process led by the UN refugee agency UNHCR. The dramatic drop in purchasing power of the refugee traders caused by the drought came as a second blow.

The Kenya Meat Commission, supported by the government, has started to buy up animals that fail the market standards but the commission has yet to reach Dagahley market.

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