Precious camels surviving on garbage in northern Somali town of LasanodPhoto | Abdi Awed Guunje feeding his camels some scraps of cardboard/Farah Dubad/Ergo
(ERGO) - Mohamed Abdullahi Hassan, 42, could no longer bear watching his camels dying one by one of hunger in front of him, so he decided to bring the remaining animals into Lasanod town to find food and water.
Every evening, Mohamed feeds his 20 camels with food waste he collects in plastic jerry cans from two restaurants in Lasanod owned by his relatives. He also lets the camels roam the neighbourhoods to forage in the rubbish heaps for any edible scraps of fruit, vegetable peelings and khat leaves.
Mohamed and the other Somali herders who have come to the urban area are able to get free access to water for their livestock from the stream on the outskirts of Lasanod - the main town in the northern Sool region of Somalia.
Mohamed has not lost any more camels since he came to town and he believes they will survive. It was the right decision, he says, as in the three weeks he has been here he has heard that some of the herders he left behind in Aday-bur, 60 km northeast of Lasanod, have lost all their camels.
The restaurant scraps are not quite enough to fill the large animals so he feeds them maize he is given occasionally by his relatives, as well as cardboard cartons collected from the shops and cut into small pieces.
In the last four months, Mohamed lost 60 camels, most of them milch camels and calves. The ones he has left do not produce milk and are weak and not sellable. He also lost 180 goats during the last few months of drought.
His wife and six children were among 400 families moved to El-Duhun with the assistance of local people, where they are sometimes provided with aid packages of food and water.
Mohamed told Radio Ergo people in town who know about livestock help him take care of his camels. He had a good reception from the residents, even those he did not know, some of whom gave several sacks of maize on seeing the state of the camels.
Radio Ergo’s local reporter in Lasonod estimated that camels belonging to about 100 pastoralist families arrived in town in February.
Yasin Mohamed Mohamud, 40, came with the last 10 of his original herd of 100 camels. He is also feeding them food waste and cardboard and other scraps. He fled from Dalya, a remote village 195 km away in Sanag region, where drought has persisted over three years.
Abdiweli Hussein Ali, a town resident, said bringing the livestock to town is generally a good move all round.
“Lasonod residents are not surprised to see camels coming to town because they are aware of the situation in the rural areas and their own lives also depend on those livestock,” he said.
He told Radio Ergo it was easier to support the herders and their animals in the urban area, as it cost a lot of money to organise transport to take maize out to them in their remote rural locations. The community was in a better position now to support each other.
However, prices of food have shot up. A sack of maize has risen from $15 to $24 due to the high demand from both humans and their livestock.
Warbixinno la xiriira