(ERGO) – Mohamoud Mohamed Marji and his family of 10 are down to a single meal of rice a day since leaving their drought-stricken rural home in southern Somalia’s Gedo region in March, to shelter temporarily with an equally hard up relative near town.
They left the rural area of Ceel-Garaar along with many other families after the three water wells dried up in February. Since the beginning of the year, 240 of Mohamoud’s goats have died due to lack of pasture and water.
Mohamoud used $80 sent by his brother working as a casual labourer in Mogadishu to pay a tuk-tuk taxi to transport his family in two trips the 40 kilometres to the town of Luq. They are living there in a flimsy hut Mohamoud put together using cartons and plastic bags they were given by their host, who works as livestock broker.
“My family and the livestock lived a good life during the rainy seasons, but this is our life now, full of hardships despite the Gu’ rains,” he recounted sadly.
“My family used to eat three meals a day, but now getting one meal is a hustle. I don’t have livestock to sell to provide for my family. We are living with these relatives and I don’t know how long they can host us.”
Mohamoud said he tried to secure unskilled labour jobs on construction sites, but he has not been lucky. He is considering relocating his family to internal displacement camps across the border in Ethiopia’s Somali region, where he heard that the World Food Programme is providing families with wheat rations.
“I would have migrated long ago, but I don’t have the money to travel, and we can’t reach there on foot,” he said.
Families across Gedo region, one of the hardest hit by the drought and water crisis, have been moving in all directions seeking survival.
Warsame Mohamoud Isack, a pastoralist living in a rural part of Elwak district, lost 60 of his 100 goats in the drought. He was forced to migrate to Caashacad village, 75 km from Elwak town. He has accumulated $500 in debt mostly buying food from local shops for his family of 16 members.
“The past few months have been tough. The pastoralists have been forced to shift to the nearest towns for help,” said Warsame, who is living in a shelter he put up for the family.
His children are helping him graze his remaining goats in the village.
He hopes to repay his debt when his goats regain the weight they lost in the prolonged dry season, and he can sell them at a good price.
The head of Gedo region’s social affairs department, Ibrahim Mohamed Gumow, told Radio Ergo that 90,000 pastoralist and farming families have been displaced from their homes in the region since December 2020. He said there had been a double tragedy of locust invasions and the early drying up of wells.
Most of the families migrated in the last four months as conditions worsened and their livestock started to die.
However, Ibrahim said he is hopeful the Gu’ rains will ease the food shortage crisis, as some of the families were left with some livestock and the farmers are planting crops. “The current rain is not completely enough to get these displaced families back on their feet, but it will help them get pasture for their livestock,” he said.