(ERGO) – Bashir Isack Ali waits by the roadside, holding onto his seven children, begging food from vehicles passing through the village of Ceel-culey in southern Somalia’s drought-stricken Gedo region.
“This how we are living! We don’t have any food at all, we haven’t cooked all of today. The problem is there is nowhere we can go to work. My only worry now is getting food for my children,” Bashir told Radio Ergo’s reporter visiting the area.
Bashir, 35, explained that he brought his family from the rural area to Ceel-culey in March, hoping to find water and fodder for their livestock. But instead, the last 19 animals from his original herd of 250 goats and 20 cows died in November.
The village does not have a well and the water reservoirs are all dry. His wife has to walk to fetch water from the nearest well in Guriyaale, 10 km away, but it is never enough. There are no animals left to carry the water.
“My wife gets five litres of water from the well on one trip. I let the children drink it in gulps. I tell them ‘you take one gulp, and you take two gulps.’ The water finishes just like that,” he said.
“We use stones to clean ourselves when we visit the toilet. We don’t even get water for ablutions. We use dust when we want to pray.”
Bashir keeps looking out for a passing vehicle that will not charge him to transport his family out of the village, 58 kilometres north of Luq, but the drivers he approaches all make an excuse.
“The situation is dire and there is no aid coming our way. We stand here hoping to get a vehicle to get us to any nearby town,” he said.
There are 73 destitute families in a similar position to his, all stranded without any water, food, or cash in Ceel-culey, where they had fled with their animals trying to keep them alive.
The owners of the small shops and businesses have migrated to Luq and Dollow to avoid running into further losses, as the destitute pastoralists could only buy goods from them on credit.
In between Ceel-culey and Guriyaale, Radio Ergo’s correspondent saw scattered carcasses of dead livestock and wild animals. He was told that none of the families remaining in the two villages has any livestock now. Those with livestock still alive have left in search of water and pasture in other villages.
Dahabo Abdi Mohamed, a widow, collects firewood from the forest to sell for food for her seven children. She barters some firewood for a cup of sorghum.
“We can only cook lunch, we don’t eat breakfast and dinner,” said Dahabo, 65, who moved to the village from the rural areas around Guriyaale in July. She has lost 30 goats and the donkey she used to transport water from the well.
“We haven’t received rain for three years. Today, I am left with only one goat, the rest have all died,” she said.
Ceel-culey village commissioner, Deq Mohamoud Adan, told Radio Ergo that there were fewer than 100 families remaining in the village and all are in urgent need of aid.
“The few livestock they herded have been killed by the drought. They don’t have anything now, there are no vehicles to truck water to the village, and the donkeys have been killed by the drought,” he stated.