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Long water crisis stresses pastoralists in Somali Region

Tuesday August 24, 2021

People fighting for water/File Photo/Ergo

(ERGO) – Desperate for water for his family and ailing livestock, Ahmed Abdi moved from the rural areas of Dollow Bay district in Afder zone to the village of Bohol Arus, after losing 73 of his 105 goats and sheep due to lack of pasture and water.

However, they found that the 1,000 pastoralist families living in this small village in Ethiopia’s Somali Region are all equally struggling for water, as two failed rainy seasons left the water catchments dry.

“I fled with my children and my remaining livestock to this village so that we could get water. But to my shock, the residents here are not that better off than me,” he said.

“The average locals here buy 40 litres of water when they can. I ask their help, and some help me with three litres while others help me with five litres and that is how I survive the day.”

Since moving here in March, Ahmed and his family of four children are depending on $80 a month sent by his brother, a watchman at Mogadishu university. He usually manages to beg around 18 litres of water day. His remaining livestock are too weak from lack of water and fodder to sell in the market.

“The livestock are our only wealth. Most of them have been wiped out by the water shortage and the few remaining ones have no market. We are in a dire situation and our biggest need is water,” he said.

Siad Fakid, a resident of Bohol Arus keeping 40 goats and eight cows, told Radio Ergo he has been buying a barrel of water at $15 to last a week. The water is brought by motorbike from Gurajo, 25 km away.

“The river is 50 kilometres away from here and we are not able to hire a water tanker to bring it. We give the livestock just a little water, once every two or three days,” he said.

Siad has sold off 38 goats so that his family of seven children can get enough water and one meal a day to scrape by. The last time was 3 July when he sold seven goats for $140.

“I don’t have any savings from a previous job, I haven’t worked for a government institution, and I am not working for an organisation. God has provided me with this livestock and that is what I have been selling at a very low price so that we can survive,” he said.

Awale Hassan Abdullahi, the village’s social affairs officer, told Radio Ergo that 220 families have fled Bohol Arus to the towns of Dollow Bay and Barey in search of water.  Some of them deserted their livestock. The water crisis began last November when the long awaited Deyr rains turned out to be poor.


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