Small traders dependent on Somalia's livestock herders are thrown into poverty due to the drought

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Faarax Saciid oo bir dhalaalinaya/Faarax Dubbad/Ergo Photo | Farah Saed has no customers due to the drought/Farah Dubbad/Ergo

Radio Ergo 16 March, 2017 LAASCAANOOD


(ERGO) - Farah Saed Ali, 50, has worked for 26 years as a blacksmith, making tools, metal water troughs, shoes and other items for the pastoralist community around the northern Somali town of Lasanod.  This year, the biting drought in this part of Somalia's Sool region has brought his business to a standstill.

For the past three months, Farah has barely sold a single hoe or axe. He goes every morning to his workplace opposite Lasanod livestock market, but as there are hardly any animals being brought to market for sale any more he rarely finds a customer.

“It is the first time in my life that I have felt the effects of a drought this much,” Farah told Radio Ergo.  “Forget about the pastoralist buying tools from us. People are fund raising for them, and those of them who have any livestock remaining have fled to places that have received rain.”

Farah, who is disabled and has six children, has incurred huge debts for rent, food and school fees. The other day he earned less than $5 for making knives for two customers, but most days he has been going home empty handed.

He used to have around 20 customers a day and took home at least $20.  After food supplies, tools are normally the second item on pastoralists’ shopping lists when they come into town.

His children are down from three meals to one meal a day in the evening.

Farah says he is feeling a sense of hopelessness.

“I owe the shop where I borrowed food for the family for three months $210. I have not paid the house rent for two months and owe $200. I owe the school my three children attend $108. I am afraid my children may get chased away from school or my family evicted from the house,” he said.

Farah can only imagine settling his debts if he gets work once the drought is over, rain falls, and pastoralists bring their livestock back to the market to sell.

About 100 metalworkers in Lasanod have been affected by the drought in similar ways to Farah. These workers are among the poorest people in the town and they cannot help each other as they do not have any savings.

Other families across Somalia who depend on the pastoralists for their own livelihoods have also felt the impact of the drought. These include the women who sell meat and milk. There are few strong animals available for slaughter and virtually no milk is being produced.

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