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Somalia, February 2016: Drought leave students without schools in Puntland

© UNICEF Somalia/2016/Hassan
Ubah waits for the reopening of her school, which closed after several families left the area because of the drought.

By Fatuma Hassan

YIBAYIL VILLAGE, Puntland, February 2016 – Ubah Farah Abdirahman, 15, bustles around her family’s small tea shop in the village of Yibayil, in Somalia’s Puntland region. Although she is not currently in school, Ubah dreams of completing her education. “I would like to be a teacher in this village or any place I can teach small children,” she says.

Last year, Ubah was a Level One student at Yibayil’s UNICEF-supported Pastoralist Education Centre (implemented by the Save the Children International consortium). The ongoing severe drought in areas of Puntland forced families to leave the village in search of water and school enrolment began to drop. With only 10 students remaining, the school had to close.

“I am very sorry that the school is no longer operating,” said Ubah. “I was hoping to continue learning until I completed school.” Ubah’s family own a tea shop and are among the few who did not leave the area. She now looks after her little sister, helps with the shop and sells vegetables from the family’s small farm.

Since the onset of El Nino in 2015, many parts of Somalia have suffered from severe droughts and flooding. Currently the drought is hitting Somaliland and Puntland. The Puntland authorities report that 213,000 people have been affected by the drought, including nearly 43,000 school-age children.

Displacement and decreasing enrolment have closed a third of schools in drought-affected areas. The impact has been particularly devastating for those who depend on livestock for their living. They face severe water shortages and sky rocketing water prices, forcing many to move to find water, grazing pasture, and food. For some families, this requires taking children out of schools which leads to the closure of schools and alternative education centres.

In Puntland’s Alula and Bargal Districts, UNICEF provided support to drought affected populations – including 10 school tents, 50 school in a box kits, 100 replenishment and 23 recreational kits – putting 2059 children (including 955 girls) back in school.

Pastoralist children are often excluded from education opportunities and are particularly vulnerable to natural and manmade shocks like drought, conflict and increases in market prices. To ensure these children also have access to quality basic education, UNICEF works with local authorities and other partners on alternative basic education mechanisms such as temporary learning spaces, mobile schools and education kits.

Ubah’s school mate, Abdulaziz, age 10, said that since the school closed he has few activities to keep him busy.

“I fetch water from the small stream near our house for my family and I attend prayers in the mosque,” he said. Ubah and Abdulaziz have appealed to the school authorities to reopen it as soon as possible.



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