(ERGO) – Maryan Ubow Osman walked for two days with her five children, aged between five and 13, from their village of Mareyle to reach the southern Somali town of Luq, 35 km away, when they ran out of water and food.
The family lost their herd of 30 goats between 19 and 23 February, and on 26 February the donkey they used to fetch water from aa well six kilometres from their home also died. Maryan said she was forced to take the children to Luq, where they would join an internally displacement camp hoping for aid.
She and the children and another family walked at night due to the hot weather during the day and had barely any food and water to keep going.
“On our way to the camp I had nothing to feed my children and at one point I thought of feeding them Algaroba seeds but decided against it. It was tough as we had nothing to eat,” Maryan told Radio Ergo’s local reporter.
She said she left home carrying just three litres of water and after a day’s walk they couldn’t bear the hunger. They came across a pastoralist family living alone in an isolated hut along the route, who gave them 1/4 kg of sorghum and some water which she used to cook for the children. That was the only meal they had on the journey.
Maryan is among the 213 pastoralist families displaced by water and food shortages in villages in Gedo region, who have arrived in Bohol-yaxaas IDP camp in Luq in the past two weeks.
She left behind her elderly husband and two of her sons with the five sheep that remain from their livestock. As she described, the sheep are feeding on Algaroba tree leaves that they collect every morning as there is no other pasture in the area. Water is brought from Mareyle village by a neighbour with a donkey, but the water is salty and the sheep have to survive on 20 litres of water once every two days.
All other water sources in the area have dried up.
“My husband said he couldn’t walk the distance here. He told me to take the children to safety since there was nothing to eat at home. My two sons have decided to stay back with their father,” said Maryan.
Maryan, hosted by a relative in the camp, has been living on less than $1.5 that she gets from washing clothes.
“I cook for my children whenever I get money from the laundry work. We mostly cook at night,” she said.
The camp is filling up with families with similar stories of no water and lack of food in their villages.
Haredo Omar Mohamed, a single mother of six, was displaced from God-iidow village, more than 50 km outside Luq. Since arriving at the camp on 11 March, she has been feeding her children with dry food that she begs from the market.
“It took us four days to reach the camp. I got support from the families we were travelling with who shared with us some cooked food,” she told Radio Ergo.
Haredo said she slept with her children under a tree on the first night at Bohol-yaxaas camp. The following morning, she made a hut using old clothes and carboard she collected from the town’s dumping sites.
The prolonged dry weather in Gedo region has severely affected pastoralists and farmers who depend on the rainy season. Many wells across the region have reportedly dried up forcing the residents to migrate towards the urban areas in search of assistance.
Ahmed Hassan Garane, Luq district administration’s representative for IDPs, noted that the displaced families arriving were in dire need of assistance. His office has registered 213 families arriving in the past two weeks, with many more on their way to the camp.
“The new arrivals are getting assistance from the old established residents. They are sharing the water and the latrines with them,” said Ahmed. “Our biggest fear is an outbreak of disease such as cholera since these families don’t have enough water for sanitation.”
This is the second wave this year of displaced families arriving in Luq, with 315 families from Bakool region arriving in February.