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Families feeling the pinch of food shortages as heavy rains cut off Afmadow in Somalia’s Lower Juba

Keydka Ergo

(ERGO) – People living in Afmadow, in southern Somalia’s Lower Juba region, are finding it hard to get enough food to eat because the town and surrounding area has been cut off for weeks by heavy rain and flooding.

Muslimo Ibrahim Qasim, 47, told Radio Ergo that her casual job washing clothes in the town left her with around $1 (22,000 shillings) when she got word. With that, she could barely buy enough rice to make a meal for her six children. Food prices have gone up due to shortages. Muslimo said she opted for sorghum, which was cheaper than rice, but even sorghum prices were now high.

The roads between Afmadow and the city of Kismayo have been blocked for more than two months.  Only donkey carts can get through. One donkey can carry a maximum load of up to eight sacks of food. The long way round for vehicles using a 120 km takes a week.

Abdiqadir Mohamed Abukar, a tailor, said he earns aound $5 a day, which is not enough to buy three meals a day for his 11-member family.

Traders in Afmadow, who spoke to Radio Ergo, said the road appeared unlikely to be unblocked soon.  Around 10 vehicles that left Kismayo bringing food supplies to the town two months ago are still stranded, stuck in deep mud along the road.

An average of 15 trucks used to bring food into Afmadow each week, according to Shiekh Mohamed Dhaqane Abdi, the chief of Afmadow.  Moreover, safe water is becoming a serious problem, as 350 wells were flooded leaving only 120 wells supplying water. The risk of water contamination is high.

Three other routes linking Afmadow to Dhoobley and Diif have also been cut off by floods. They are crucial for the movement of goods and people.


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