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Somalia, 27 December 2016: Family forced to flee their home by drought ends up in a crowded camp

© UNICEF Somalia/2016/Sarman
A woman goes in search of water with her donkeys west of Burao, Somaliland. Many pastoralists are moving out of this area in search of pasture for their animals due to the drought.

 
By Jamal Abdi Sarman

BURAO, Somaliland, December 2016 – Asha Adan and her family depended on their flock of sheep and goats for survival until the prolonged drought in Somaliland killed most of them. As a desperate measure, Asha left the few remaining animals with her husband and travelled 70 kilometres with her five children to a makeshift camp where they now live in a small shelter previously used as a kitchen.

The family used to stay around I’larman village where the animals would be taken out to pasture and she would sell milk to buy food for the family.

“We had fifty sheep and goats but we lost almost all of them in the recent months as a result of the drought. We had nothing left to sustain us so together with thirty families who were in the same situation we migrated to Burao in search of humanitarian assistance,” she said.

They moved to Aqilyare camp for the displaced in Burao, capital in the northwestern Togdheer region.

Among the families who moved, Asha was seen as lucky because she found a family that allowed her and her children to share part of their basic shelter. The camp was already too full to accommodate most of the families she fled with and there were no materials to set up temporary shelters for the new arrivals.

“When the families arrived we couldn’t really help. Some were helped by families. Asha and her children were vulnerable so they were given that small hut which had been used as a kitchen to live in. Even when we found some space, we lacked the materials to put up shelters. More than thirty families had to find somewhere else to stay,” said Hersi Abdillah , the Head of Aqilyare IDP camp.

© UNICEF Somalia/2016/Sarman
Asha Adan and her family stand outside their new home in a makeshift camp for internally displaced in Somaliland where they moved after most of their animals died due to the drought.

As families in eastern Somaliland have moved because of the drought, local schools have shut due to lack of students. In Odweine, west of Burao, a third of the thirty-six schools have been closed due to the pastoralists moving to other areas of Somaliland and even to neighbouring Ethiopia to find pasture and water.

“Families keep migrating to areas in western Somaliland and Ethiopia where there were reports of some rain. So far twelve schools have been closed due to lack of students. I’ve requested that the mid-term exam be brought forward so that the remaining students can sit it incase their families leave,” the District Education Officer Ahmed Osman explained. The families often load their remaining animals onto trucks for the journey but then find many die on the way.

“We partitioned the back of this truck to accommodate two hundred sheep and goats from two families who were taking them to Ethiopia in the hope of saving most of them. We are praying the rains comes within two months – otherwise we fear it will turn into famine and causes big losses,” Khaire Adan, a truck owner said.

In Somaliland, UNICEF is providing 6,000 households with access to safe water through vouchers. This response is done jointly with the World Food Program which provides food vouchers to the same beneficiaries. UNICEF is also repairing strategic water points.

 

 
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