Hanging by a Thread: How Jama's Family is Surviving the Drought

Published September 5, 2017 by Abdirashid Rageh

Jama purchasing food items for his family in Durduri village of Sanaag region, August 2017


Meet Jama Hussein Mohamed, a thirty-five years old father of eight who lives with his family in the coastal village of Durduri, in the Sanaag region of Somalia.  Before their livelihood in pastoralism was disturbed by the current drought, Jama’s family lived off their livestock which sustained and provided them with an income.

As a devastating drought bites, depleted pasture, high levels of water shortages and massive loss of livestock result in pervasive food insecurity and malnutrition of which millions are victims in Somalia. Jama’s family was no exception. The loss of almost their entire herd of goats, sheep, and camels was the beginning of their struggle to eat and live one day at a time.

“Our animals started dying gradually then rapidly in big numbers. We had 400 sheep and goats and 25 camels, today I have only 20 livestock and 3 camels. Without the income and nuristion that our livestock provided we were at risk of starvation. My main concern became getting through the drought without losing a member of my family” 

The remaining of Jama’s livestock are in a bad body condition and can only be sold at a very low price. All this comes against the backdrop of market inflation, rising food and water prices and reduced household purchasing power. Leaving their lives and the lives of many others who share their reality in the balance.

“We faced one of the hardest situations ever in our life. My family would go hungry and I couldn’t do much to feed them.  At the same time I wasn’t able to find an alternative source of income, pastoralism is all I know. I took debt again and again in order survive and I ended up with a pile of debt” Jama said explaining his family's predicament and the coping strategies they have exhausted before becoming a beneficiary of Adeso’s Somalia Emergency Response Project (SERP).

In April 2017 Jama started receiving unconditional cash transfer through SERP with the support of the Somalia Humanitarian Fund (SHF). Jama's family received $150 for three months.

“The money we got revived my hope of making it through the drought. I was in constant fear of losing one of my children. I am grateful that we got a second chance at life. " said Jama

Jama uses the cash to purchase food for his family and the rest he pays his debt with. As one of the lucky ones who are at least left with some animals. If his family survives this drought, he hopes that with the little livestock he has left he might be able to resume his traditional way of life.