From Plenty to Paltry, When Pastoralists Lose Everything

Published November 13, 2017 by Abdirizak Hidig


Before the current drought, Saed Ali Artan was considered one of the rich pastoralists in Finly village in the Sool region of Somalia. Over 600 sheep and goats supplied his family with meat and milk and served as a valuable asset that he could sell to for cash. After more than two years of drought, Saed is today down to his last 26 goats and sheep.

The drought has left Saed in a state of destitution that he has never experienced before. Sadly, he is only one of the 6.7 million people in Somalia who are in need of humanitarian assistance. The current drought dubbed ‘Sima’ or the leveler by the locals has robbed people like Saed of their livelihoods in pastoralism, agriculture and agro-pastoralism reducing everyone to the same level of impoverishment.

“I have been pastoralist my whole life but I have never witnessed a drought this bad. We always managed to survive. I never worried that my children might starve because we don't have anything to eat. It keeps me up at night.” Said the troubled 70-year-old.

For the destitute families across the country, survival is a daily struggle. There is not enough food, water and most of the affected population is surviving on the assistance from the humanitarian responses that scaled up in since the beginning of the year 2017. While some receive help from their relatives in or outside of the country. However, that’s not the case for everyone including Saed who struggled for two years with piling debts to keep his family alive before he finally started getting assistance from Adeso.

Adeso’s USAID-FFP funded cash assistance project provides relief to people like Saed and his family whose livelihoods have been shattered by the drought and who are at risk in the current hunger crisis. The project aims to improve the food security of vulnerable households through cash support. Over the past 5 months, Saed’s family have been receiving an amount of $156 to meet their basic needs. This amount might not be a lot for a family of 10, but it’s definitely enough to help them survive drought.

The project is currently supporting 2,800 people in six target villages in Sool region through unconditional cash assistance distributed electronically to their mobile phones. The cash assistance has helped Saed and his family to access food, water, and to pay some of their debt.

"The cash we have been receiving is really helpful. I get to feed my family and slowly pay off the debt that I have accumulated over the past two years" Saed explained.