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Somalia, March 2016: Drought in northern Somalia forces families to travel long distances in search of water

© UNICEF Somalia/2016/Hassan
Najah and her mother who are on the move in drought-stricken Puntland wait for the water truck.

By Fatuma Ali Hassan

KARKAR, Puntland, Somalia, March 2016 – Halima’s family have been on the move desperate to find water as the drought in Puntland gets worse. In October Halima Elmi, her husband and eight children left their home area of Karkar because the October-December rains had failed and travelled 300 kilometres south to Burtinle close to the Ethiopian border along a rough road.

But the drought caught up with them there, the pasture also became exhausted so they decided to move back again to Karkar, the area they knew best.

“It is so expensive to move – we have to pay US$500 to go by truck along this road with our animals and we don’t make that kind of money from our livestock,” said Halima.

The family has just returned to Karkar to find that the water storage known as berkads were dry and they will have to buy water from trucks bringing expensive drums of water.

It is estimated that more than 90,000 households (540,000 people) live in the areas of Puntland affected by the drought and an estimated 39,392 households (236,352 people) have been affected – mostly farmers, fishing communities, livestock producers and traders in Bari, Sanaag and Karkar. These areas had already suffered prolonged drought due to the poor performance of rains in the past two years.

Halima, who was cooking a family meal over firewood, said the family was too tired and weak to build their traditional nomadic shelter or Agal.

“We have been told we have to wait about a week for water from the water truck as there are many families ahead of us,” said Halima. “Children and animals suffer from thirst, and we don’t have a camel to fetch water from faraway places. Many families are waiting for the same water truck.”

In Bari, Karkar and Sanaag regions, most surface water sources including water storages (berkads) and wells have dried up.

Halima’s eight-year-old daughter Najah Mohamed said she was constantly suffering from thirst.

“I can’t wait for all this long time that the water truck takes,” she said. “I wait for it every day. My mother sometimes goes to fetch water from the neighbouring families but they are very far away.”



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