(ERGO) – Ahmed Elmi Mohamud, a pastoralist father of 10 children, has been selling off his goats to keep the family alive, as they huddle beneath a makeshift shelter after fleeing conflict near their home in central Somalia’s Hobyo district.
“We don’t have enough money to buy water. The goats have been affected by the dry season and they don’t have much value in the market,” he told Radio Ergo. “I had 40 goats but I am now down to 20.”
They used their camel to carry their belongings on the five day journey to Jaho, 10 kilometres from Wisil in Galmudug.
Since arriving, Ahmed has sold six goats in a week, making just $110 to buy water for his family and the rest of his dwindling herd for a couple of weeks. He also slaughtered three of the weakest goats for food for the family. Eleven of his goats have died of starvation in the past few days.
As they fled from their home area of Shabellow, they passed a number of other pastoralist families walking the entire 70 km to Jaho with their children and the elderly, as they did not have a camel or a vehicle to transport them.
Fighting in late January between Al-Shabaab and the Somali army has caused the displacement of an estimated 700 families from Shabellow, Imaamad and Gadey in Hobyo district of Mudug. They are all facing lack of shelter, food and water in Jaho, where the authorities are unable to support them.
Ahmed stated that a barrel of water costs $4-$5. They are living on the five kg of rice and sugar remaining from the 10 kg of food they brought with them.
Asli Mohamud Sabriye, a mother of 10, left all her belongings behind when she fled Imaamad. Her five youngest children were picked up by a family shifting in a rented vehicle. The rest of her family with their 15 goats joined other pastoralist families and took a week to walk the 50 kilometres to Jaho.
“All we carried with us was one jerry can of water. One of the families helped us with a kettle and another with a cooking pot,” Asli said.
They are sheltering under the trees during the day and sleeping rough in the open at night.
The family has been surviving on 25 kg of rice and sugar that they bought after selling one of their goats.
“My family are living on one meal a day,” Asli said. “At night, I cover some of the children with one of my only three pieces of clothing.”
The local authorities said they are not in a position to help the displaced families because the region is going through a tough period due to the winter. However, they said they are raising awareness among the locals to prevent disagreements over water and pasture resources, which are extremely scarce.