(ERGO) – Thirteen-year-old Halimo Abdikadir Ali was preparing for her end of year exams at Baarey primary school in Jowhar, southern Somalia’s Middle Shabelle region, when sudden flooding of the river on 2 May forced the family to abandon their home and property and flee to higher ground.
“My books, my clothes and our food have been washed away by the floods. Our shelter and the school were destroyed too,” Halimo told Radio Ergo.
“I have been wearing these clothes I fled with for 18 days because I don’t have any other clothes to change!”
Halimo’s family put up a makeshift hut on the area of high ground outside Jowhar to shelter from the rains that are still pounding the town.
The floods destroyed their two-roomed home, seven goats, 10 chickens, and three-hectares of crops on the farm they were expecting to harvest soon.
Halimo, a class three pupil, joined Baarey last year after her family failed to raise the fees at her former private school. Her two younger sisters and brother are also enrolled at the same school. She had been hoping to complete her studies without any more disruptions, but the floods have dashed her optimism.
“My family doesn’t have enough money to enroll me to in another school and I don’t think we will go back to our school tomorrow or the day after, unless there is some help that I wish would come soon,” she said.
Halimo’s large family of 14 is currently living off the eight kilograms of rice, flour and sugar they received from the Hirshabelle authority on 18 May.
Baarey primary school opened eight years ago and began offering free education in late 2020. It had 220 pupils, 110 of them girls.
Mohamoud Yussuf Suleiman, the headmaster, said the management had informed Hirshabelle education ministry of the enormous damage done to the school and were waiting for a response. Four of the six classrooms were destroyed and the school’s two printers and a computer were washed away.
“Curriculum books donated to the school by the federal ministry of education were washed away by the floods. The books were from grade one to eight,” the dejected headmaster said.
He warned that the uncertainty of the school’s reopening date might force many of its students to drop out and move to cities such as Mogadishu looking for opportunities, or even to become street children.
Hirshabelle ministry of education said education for more than 500 students had been disrupted by flooding in the past two weeks.
The ministry’s Jowhar coordinator, Osman Nur Dakane, told Radio Ergo the floods were still spreading to new areas, including schools, making it difficult to plan for any renovations. He also expressed fears that some students would drop out permanently.
Nurto Isse Ali, a displaced mother, said her main concern was feeding her family of eight, which was currently more of an urgent worry than their education. She had planted vegetables, beans and maize worth $200 in February on their two-hectare farm and was expecting to harvest soon. The floods destroyed all the crops.
Nurto also fled with her family to the outskirts of Jowhar, where they are lacking food and shelter. She has been feeding her eight-member family with the two kilograms of flour, rice and sugar they were given by the Hirshabelle authority.