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Somalia, 30 December 2016: Severe drought kills animals and forces Somali families to flee

© UNICEFSomalia/2016/Sarman
Abdikadir Ali travelled to Wajaale in western Somaliland to escape the drought and find pasture and water for his 70 sheep - but when he arrived he found that nearly half of them were so weak they had died on the journey.

 
WAJAALEe, Somaliland – Seventy-eight year old Mohammed Idle wearily gets down from a truck that brought him and his 16 emaciated cattle over 500 kilometres west from his home district in search of water. But it was too late for some of his animals.

“We travelled for more than 20 hours from Wadaamago village across here to Wajaale where I was told the situation is better. Many other families from these eastern regions have fled too,” he says in a feeble voice. “My intention was to save our family and my cattle – our only livelihood. The majority were too weak to make the journey so I left them behind and brought 16 – but six perished on the journey as you can see.”

His home region of Sool, along with other north eastern regions including Toghdeer, Sanaag, Bari and Nugal have suffered a severe drought. Many families have left with their animals but many of the animals died on the way. Families said they had lost up to half of their animals by the time they arrived.

The last 50 kilometre stretch of the route in Somaliland – from Gabiley town to Wajaale on the border with Ethiopia – is lined with flimsy shelters built by those who have fled their homes. There is a strong smell of decomposing carcasses.

When Abdikadir Ali arrived in Wajaale he found more than of his 30 sheep and goats he had brought with him had died and he feared that the rest might follow.

“I transported 70 sheep and goats in a bid to save them but when I arrived last night 30 had died. I’m left with about 40 which are weak and thin – maybe they may not last a week,” a desperate sounding Ali explained.

Adan Muse, the Mayor of Wajaale said the number of arrivals from drought areas was increasingly daily.

“We counting dozens of families arriving every day and settling in districts like Wajaale, Dilla and Kalabaydh. This region has never witnessed such an influx before, he said. “People are arriving from eastern areas and we have also some families coming from Gashamo in Ethiopia. It shows how desperate the people living in those areas are,” he said.

UNICEF’s partner, the Somaliland Red Crescent, reports that 550 households have settled in Borama in the past few weeks bringing the total number of families in Wajaale and adjacent districts to 2000.

© UNICEFSomalia/2016/Sarman
Seventy-eight year old Mohammed Idle travelled over 500 kilometres west across Somaliland after drought hit his area - but some of his cattle were too feeble to survive the long trip.

The families are in urgent need of food, shelter and medications. Local people have provided water and land but the makeshift shelters provide little protection against the cold season.

“UNICEF is the first organization we’ve seen since these families arrived,” said Omar Samriye, a local land owner. “We have given them some land to settle but they need urgent support. Now what you’re seeing is animals dying, but next you will see or hear about people dying too.”

Another major concern is an outbreak of Acute Watery Diarrhoea (AWD) which has affected more than 80 people. AWD is often caused by poor water quality and can be fatal for children. These affected include 11 women and four of their children who were admitted to a local hospital in Wajaale.

“Our assessment indicated they drunk contaminated water from a pool that recently filled with rain water,” said Omar Abdillahi, a medical officer. “The patients have lost a lot of fluid and we trying to compensate for that.”

The Mayor has warned that the hundreds of animal carcasses strewn all over the district poses a major public health risk as in the event of rain they will be washed to the water collection pools used by locals to get drinking water. He appealed for help to collect and disposes the carcasses in secure places.

In Somaliland and Puntland, UNICEF and WFP are responding jointly to the drought to provide food and water vouchers to some 76,000 people.

UNICEF will also repair boreholes to ensure sustained access to safe water and help prevent disease outbreaks.

UNICEF is increasing integrated health and nutrition services particularly through joint mobile health and nutrition teams which are carrying out emergency vaccinations and providing hygiene kits. Emergency health supplies, including Diarrhoeal Disease Kits are also being provided.

Funds have been generously provided by donors, including the Canadian Government, DFID, the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid department (ECHO), the United State’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and Japan, for life-saving services in health, education, water and sanitation.

 

 
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