(ERGO) – Mohamud Farah Elmi has been spending four to five hours at the roadside every night, hoping to beg a small amount of water for his family from water tankers passing by this part of northern Somalia’s drought-stricken Sool region.
He waits at night because more trucks travel then due to the scorching heat in the daytime.
“Sometimes the water trucks assist us with a little water, other times they just speed past. Some of the drivers tell us they have already distributed the water and are empty,” Mohamud told Radio Ergo, a resident of Gubad area, 27 km south of Lasanod.
Waiting outside at night risks encountering big snakes like pythons, which are well known in the area, and truck drivers often fear making a stop for fear of wild animals and snakes. But Mohamud said he will risk anything to get water for drinking and cooking.
“If the situation continues like this, we will see people dying because of thirst,” he said. Water for any other needs such as washing or bathing is out of the question during these times.
Mohamud has been living in Gubad for four years, having moved there after fleeing conflict in Dhumay. His family is among 250 families, who migrated due to conflict and drought in their areas to Gubad, where they used to get water from a rain-filled well that has dried up.
He told Radio Ergo’s local reporter that a diaspora community from the area supported the residents by filling water storage tanks once a week over the course of one month. But that assistance ended.
Hundreds of other families in Gubad, Gobdheere, and Ceel-Jeeh are feeling similarly desperate for water and many people are waiting by roadsides flagging down vechicles to beg for water.
Abdikadir Ali Mohamed, a father of five, said he comes home without getting water after waiting by the road on some nights, as the water trucks speed off or say they are empty.
“The little water I get is not even enough for my children. I water my 10 goats once every five days,” he said.
The water trucks passing through these areas fill up from Lasanod and sell water in Maralay and Dabataag.
Abdihakin Abdillahi Mohamud, a water truck driver who frequently passes the area, said he gives out five barrels of water for free to the people he meets along the road every day. His truck carries 45 barrels of water.
“It pains me but sometimes I tell some of the people I meet that I don’t have water as I can’t give away more than five litres,” he said.
Abdihakin noted that he has regular customers who buy 40 barrels of water a day, making it hard for him to distribute more than the five extra barrels.