Home AGRICULTURE & LIVESTOCK Locusts push families to the brink in central Somalia

Locusts push families to the brink in central Somalia

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(ERGO) – As a father of eight children, Dahir Abdi Hashi feels totally dejected that he has lost his job as a farmhand due to the waves of desert locusts that have destroyed three consecutive harvests in Amaara, in central Somalia’s Mudug region.

He can no longer put enough food on the table to feed the family.

“We give the children tea in the morning and we sit for a meal once in the evening,” he told Radio Ergo.

“We can’t afford water anymore, and we don’t have any food reserves to fall back on. These locusts have made life difficult for everyone in the area.”

There are many previously self-sufficient families in Amaara now suffering food shortages resulting from the devastation of farms and grazing land by the continuing swarms of locusts.

Dahir’s family cannot afford the piped water they used to rely on, and find it increasingly difficult to buy trucked water as an alternative. The cost of a barrel of water has almost quadrupled from 8,000 to 30,000 Somali shillings.

Abshir Hussein Yusuf, who manages Amaara’s only well, attributed the rising price of water to costly repairs of the water pumps that keep breaking down.

“We can only get technicians from Adado or Galkayo, or as far as Mogadishu. When we find someone, we have to rent a vehicle to bring them, we also have to pay their fees, and don’t forget all the spare parts that are needed,” he said.

Many residents have had to cut back on expenses by pulling their children out of school. This trend is likely to continue as the locusts take a toll on people’s livelihoods.

Mahamud Farah Barre, a father of 14, told Radio Ergo that his family had been living comfortably on their three-hectare farm, until repeated locust invasions reduced them to depending on $50 monthly bailouts sent by relatives in Mogadishu.

He recently withdrew four of his six children from school because he could not afford to pay the fees. He has kept two of his sons in school but he does not know for how long he can sustain the payments.

“I was paying about $13 for each child, some in primary and some in secondary school, and the total was $90, which I simply cannot afford these days,” he said.

Education officials in Amaara confirmed to Radio Ergo that 32 children have recently been taken out of school due to financial hardships faced by families.

The area commissioner, Sheikh Yusuf Salad Muhumud, said the locusts have not only destroyed farmlands, but also affected the grazing land that pastoralists depend on, forcing many of them to migrate elsewhere.

“Once the locust swarms devoured the farm crops and the grazing pasture that our animals lived on, what we have is indeed drought conditions – they have caused a drought!” he said.

Sheikh Yusuf said they have sent an urgent appeal to the Galmudug state authorities and humanitarian agencies for help but none has been received so far.

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