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Somalia, 13 April 2017: Drought forces many children to stop going to school to support the family

© UNICEFSomalia/2017/Ibrahim
13 year old Iftin who was forced to stop going to school when his family migrated due to the drought – and who is now the family breadwinner.

By Yahye Abdi Ibrahim, UNICEF Somalia Education Consultant

GARBAHAREY, Gedo, south Somalia – Thirteen year old Iftin was forced to stop going to school when his family decided their only hope for survival was to move.

So last October the whole family left to travel 35 kilometres in search of pasture and water for their dying animals. Iftin had been in Grade 4 at the UNICEF-supported Garbaharey Primary School, one of 110 schools UNICEF supports in Gedo with teacher incentives, training of teachers, child to child clubs, community education committees, and supplies.

Even after their long trek, the family did not find pasture for their animals and so they decided to return home. By this time 37 of their 60 goats had died and the rest were weak.

But Iftin still was not able to return to his studies when they got back. He began to collect water from the shallow well and to sell it to the community earning around four dollars a day.

“I dropped from school when my family needed to migrate with animals. I still support the family by fetching water and selling it to get money for the family,” said Iftin looking sad. “I feel very bad not to be in school because am not learning and missing friends to play with football.”

He explained how the whole family was suffering from the effects of the drought. “Food and water is scarce. Sometimes in a day, I eat one meal.”

The drought has led to a third of the children from Iftin’s former school being forced to leave. The school headmaster Mohamed Hassan Ilmi said, “Children are dropping out from school as they have to support their parents at home and some migrate with their families.” He added that children from rural villages were particularly affected and children were taking on more work such as herding animals, fetching water from far distances and moving with animals during the search of pasture and water.

In response to the drought and school dropout, UNICEF has reprogrammed school mini grants aimed for school improvements to support schools affected by the drought. In Garbaharey district, 500 of the most vulnerable school children benefit food vouchers and Iftin’s school is among the three schools selected. In addition, UNICEF is working with its education partners to engage with community education committees to mobilize and sensitize parents to allow the dropout children to return to school or the fear is that they will never return.



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