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Central Somalia pastoralists watch livestock dying before them

Tuesday October 5, 2021

Pastoralists watch their livestock die as severe water and pasture shortage experienced in Central Somalia/File Photo/Ergo

Dahir Ahmed Kahiye, a pastoralist living in Dhabarduleel, a remote village on the outskirts of Ceelgula, in central Somalia’s Galmudug state, lost 80 goats in August and September. His remaining 130 goats are sick, and he is worried they might die too.

He has been losing the animals at a rapid rate since Ceelgula’s borehole, where they used to water, stopped functioning in August due to a technical fault. Moreover, the last three rainy seasons have failed in this part of Mudug region, 110 kilometres south of Galkayo.

“In August, we were seeing the death of one goat a week, but now they are dying every night,” Dahir told Radio Ergo.

He had been selling a goat every now and then to buy grain to feed the rest of the herd, but stopped in May as none of the feeble animals could fetch anything at the market.

“A bag of grain goes for up to $40 – it is unaffordable! We have now stopped buying both water and feed for the livestock,” he declared.

Dahir, a father of 12, has accumulated a debt of $2,000 on grain for the goats and local stores will not give him any more credit until he pays off what he owes. He begs water for his family from neighbours, who buy water trucked from Toore island, 45 km away.

“We survive on food I beg from relatives. One person gives me rice, another gives me cooking oil, and that is how we live. There is no humanitarian agency that has come to help us,” said Dahir, whose only source of income is his goats.

Many other pastoralists in Dhabarduleel who lost a significant number of their animals in previous droughts are now in danger of losing their entire remaining livestock.

The dire picture is similar for livestock herders in other villages around Ceelgula, including Ballicad, Dhoobacadde and Miirsaare.

Muhyadin Mohamed Hassan thought of moving his 150 goats and 10 camels from drought-stricken Dhoobacadde to the coast in Hobyo, 180 kilometres away, where he heard there is pasture. However, he could not raise the $1,000 quoted for a vehicle to transport the animals and so decided to feed them on grain he buys on credit from local stores.

“In the past one week I counted the carcasses of 13 of my goats,” Muhyadin stated.

“Now, everyone is turning to someone they know who can lend them money to buy grain for the livestock.”

Muhyadin and his family of eight children are living on food he takes on credit from local stores, where he has debts of $900. He compared the scarcity of water and pasture to the severe drought known as ‘Sima’ (meaning equal) in 2016-2017, which impoverished many pastoralists due to their livestock being wiped out.

The commissioner of Ceelgula, Ali Bashi Maalin, told Radio Ergo that 100 pastoralists who lost their entire livestock had arrived in Ceelgula from rural villages.

“These people depend on livestock for a living and the livestock are dying. Some of them who lost their entire livestock have fled to the towns and are being hosted by the residents. They need urgent help,” he said.

The commissioner said an estimated 2,500 pastoralist families in the villages in Ceelgula district were affected by the water and pasture scarcity. He has been talking to the Galmudug state authorities and aid agencies about repairing the well and helping the families struggling to keep their remaining animal alive, as well as those who had lost their livestock.


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