In Somalia, a Recuring Drought Takes itís Toll on Pastoral Families

Published March 11, 2016 by

Zaynab Jama Abdi and her two boys, Abdurahman and Salad Tuulo Haruse, Bari, February 16, 2016. 


Zaynab Jama Abdi is concerned for the lives of her seven children, including her youngest, Abdurahman.

“As a family, we are really struggling to get enough food and water. There is not enough pasture in the area, we fetch plant roots and grass whenever we can to feed our livestock. We used to buy grass for them, but that also has become scarce and therefore pricy as a result of the drought,” explains Zaynab.

Back in November 2015, Zaynab’s family had 100 sheep and 50 goats, and was able to earn a living from them. Now, they remain with only 30 goats and 30 sheep and life has become hard. Four of Zaynab’s children now live with relatives in other cities, as she is no longer able to feed all of them.


An unfolding humanitarian crisis

Zaynab is not the only one faced with this situation as many other parents in Somalia worry about their ability to provide for their families. As yet another rainy season has passed with little to no rain in the northern parts of the country, particularly Bari and Sanaag, a humanitarian crisis of an enormous scale is looming. Successive droughts and water shortages have cost pastoral and agro-pastoral communities their livestock and crops, and threatened their food security and livelihoods. With very few, if any, coping mechanisms left and little humanitarian assistance in sight, thousands of women, children, and men face this plight alone.


In search of water and pasture

Desperate for water and pasture, many pastoral families from Bari have been migrating to Central Somalia, which experienced a relatively higher rainfall during the last two rainy seasons and has more pastures and better water access. The journey is long and difficult, but many families embark on it in an attempt to preserve what remains of their livestock, even if it means losing some of the weaker ones along the way.

Others such as Zaynab, however, prefer to stay behind and hope for more rain soon. When asked why her family decided to stay, she explained that they had already migrated earlier in 2015 to where they are settled now, looking for pasture and water. They lost some of their livestock on the way and to their disappointment were met with two rainless seasons that claimed half of the remaining livestock.

“Thousands of other families were already moving with their herds towards Central Somalia. The journey takes days,” she says. “We risk losing more animals and by the time we arrive all the pasture will have been exhausted by the overgrazing herds that were there first.”

What you can do

In the absence of cash or assets to sell, Zaynab’s family has been buying food and water on credit. Their debt has been piling up over the past seven months. If they don’t start paying them off, local traders will soon stop granting them credit.

Adeso is preparing to provide 1,750 families with a cash transfer of $200 to help them meet their immediate food and water needs and be better prepared to recover once the rains come. 


Help families like Zaynab’s who are suffering every day as a result of this drought and food crisis.