Struggling for survival in drought-hit Somaliland

Thu Apr 28, 2016 10:17am EDT
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By Siegfried Modola

HARGEISA, Somalia (Reuters) - In the past three months, Amina Ibrahim Shirwa and her family have lost around 25 goats, sheep and cows as a harsh drought has ravaged livestock and crops in northern Somalia.

The 50-year-old, who lives outside Botor village in the semi-autonomous Somaliland region, fears for her family's livelihood after several successive poor rainy seasons made worse by El Nino conditions in the Horn of Africa.

Outside her family compound, just a few of her livestock remain. Nearby, dead sheep lie on the ground.

While rain finally arrived here this month, its intensity has flooded fields and killed frail, malnourished livestock, too weak to produce milk or with little meat.

"Most of my animals have died due to the lack of rain. The weak ones left are dying now because of the rains that have come," she said. "We have lost most of our livelihood. There is very little money to buy food or to plant crops."

Across the Horn of Africa, millions have been hit by the severe El Nino-related drought. In Somaliland and the neighboring, also semi-autonomous, Puntland region, 1.7 million people in are in need of aid, according to the United Nations.

In Somaliland itself, the most affected areas include the northwest Awdal region bordering Ethiopia. Many families there say they are losing their last surviving animals, their livelihood, and have little money to work their fields.

More than 250,000 people died in a 2011 famine that hit Somalia, a state long plagued by poverty, recurrent drought, hunger and an Islamist insurgency. Some Somaliland residents say this drought is the worst in decades.   Continued...

A woman walks past the carcass of a camel that has died due to the severe drought near the town of Qol Ujeed, on the border with Ethiopia, Somaliland April 17, 2016.  REUTERS/Siegfried Modola