A five-month blockade of Dinsor district in Bay region maintained by Al-Shabaab forces has left people in the town on the verge of desperation.
Local farmers have not harvested for several years due to a series of droughts and constant displacement due to conflict.
As the last Deyr rains were poor, farmers’ food stocks have been virtually exhausted.
The majority of Dinsor farmers have been reduced to paupers, dependent on working on larger farms. Abdinur Mohamed Abdi, 52, finds it hard to feed his family of 10 from the casual jobs he gets earning him 50,000 shillings for ploughing 10 metres of soil. “The price of a kilo of sugar has risen from 12,000 to 30,000 shillings. Everything is getting expensive and I cannot afford to buy food for my family on daily basis,” he said.
Awliyo Adan Nur, a mother of seven, used to feed the family on her farm produce and keep some to sell. She exhausted her food reserves in the prolonged dry spell. She started selling tea in the market where she makes 20,000 to 50,000 shillings, but says it is not enough.
“My children are suffering due to our poor living standards. They don’t have access to education and we are appealing for assistance,” Awliyo told Radio Ergo.
Hassan Mohamed Hussein, the deputy district commissioner of Dinsor in the Interim South West State, said food was becoming very scarce in the district and rising prices were threatening the lives of the 28,800 local residents of the town.
“There is no production whatsoever in Dinsor. We do not receive aid from any quarters and the problems have now gone full scale,” said Hassan.
Local businessman Mustaf Mohamed Abdi said he had been unable to bring in food or non-food items to sell in his shops in town due to the blockade.
“The price of one litre of cooking oil has risen from 15,000 to 40,000 shillings. Less fortunate members of the community are finding it difficult to purchase basic commodities,” Mustaf told Radio Ergo.
The town used to have direct business links with Mogadishu 370 km and Baidoa 120 km away. The only way to get supplies in to Dinsor currently is by air.