(ERGO) – Children from internally displaced families in the southwestern Somali town of Baidoa have been forced to drop out of school because their parents have moved back to their farms in the rural areas.
Dozens of drought-hit farming families have started moving back to their farms in rural areas, as rains start in several areas ofBay and Bakool regions.
Expectations of improved farming prospects prompted these families to temporarily return to the home village.
Sixty children were pupils at Kormari Primary School on the eastern side of Baidoa. The school was built and run by Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and has been offering free education to children from poor and IDP families.
Amina Osman Adan, headteacher of the school, said many families left the camp to take up farming.
“The school had a population of 690 children but now that number has fallen to 630. The lives of these families largely depend on farming so they move from time to time during rainy seasons,” she said.
Amina and her teaching colleagues tried to convince the parents to leave their children behind to continue their schooling but their efforts were unsuccessful.
“We even organised places for the children to stay but parents turned down our offer. They claimed that the children are needed to help during planting,” she explained.
According to Amina, families returned to several villages including Awdinle, Bonkay, Misir, Mistake, Salboy, and Ashagow.
Qassim Mohamed Adan, the NRC representative in Bay and Bakool, said they run seven schools in the region. Several of them have been affected by the exit of children as farmers return to their villages.
Over 3,400 farms owned by IDPs have been cultivated this deyr season by80 families who have returned to their villages, Abdinur Mohamed Ibrahim, the chairperson of Baidoa farmers association, told Radio Ergo.
“The rain-fed farms in this region have now been cultivated as the deyr season is ongoing, but there are other places reporting short rain and drying up of seedlings,” Abdinur said.
Safiyo Abdi Mohamed has been living in an IDP camp in Baidoa since fleeing drought in her native Shabelow village, 30km outside Baidoa, in 2016.
Her family is now trying to move back to Shabelow to resume their farming activities.
Speaking to Radio Ergo, Safiyo said she is planning to travel to the area soon with her school-aged children.
“I want to resettle in my village to continue farming. Two of my children go to school here but I will take them away with me because I need them to assist me on the farm, so they will not stay back in the camp,” she said.