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Wells dry up in besieged south-west Somali town of Hudur

Friday October 8, 2021

Hudur residents queue for hours to get water as most of the wells in the town dry up/File Photo/Ergo

(ERGO) – Nur Abdullahi Mohamed, a water seller, has been driving his donkey cart around Hudur with an empty barrel for the past two weeks, as it has been impossible to find water at any of the wells in this town in southern Somalia’s drought-stricken Bakool region.

“The wells don’t have water. I have been here for hours, and I haven’t got any water yet,” Nur told Radio Ergo, waiting at the only borehole in El-Afweyne, Bullow village, that has any water at all.

 “I have been working as a water seller for eight years and I have never seen a situation like this before!” he added.

Nur said he has waited into the night until 11pm. Due to the scarcity of water available, he is now selling a barrel at between 80,000 Somali shillings to 100,000 Somali shillings, up from 30,000 Somali shillings.

“The water shortage has greatly affected my daily life. My clients are waiting for me to deliver water to them, and I don’t have any. The water remaining in this well has also become dirty,” he said.

Fadumo Ali Hussein, a mother of five, used to buy a 200-litre barrel of water for her family every day. Now she buys just two 20-litre jerry cans if she can appeal to water sellers to sell to her. The water sellers give first priority to their regular customers whenever they succeed in filling their barrels from the well.

She sometimes goes to the well early in the morning and joins the long queues to buy 20 litres in a jerry can. She returns home in the afternoon with the water, although it is not enough to satisfy the family’s needs.

“The queues are too long. The situation is so dire, only those who have experienced it can talk about,” she said. “We pray to God for rain.”

Hudur has been under siege for several years, with supply routes in and out of the district blocked off by Al Shabab. Local people have to smuggle supplies in by donkey carts using back routes through the bush.

Haji Hassan Isack, a pastoralist who brought his livestock to the well in Bullow, said he has to wait many hours before his animals get the chance to drink. He herded them from Aboori village, 17 km away from Hudur, where there is no water.

The last three rainy seasons have failed in this part of Somalia. If the expected Deyr rains delay or fail, even this well in Bullow will run dry and nobody wants to think of the dire consequences.

“The water wells in Hudur are dry. We used to water our livestock at the wells near us. But now we are forced to bring them here. It takes four hours to get a chance to water my livestock,” Haji told Radio Ergo.

Haji needs two people to help him look after the livestock whilst he holds his position in the long queue for water.

“We come here in the morning and leave in the evening. Dozens of animals have died because of thirst,” he said.   


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