Tuesday September 14, 2021
(ERGO) – Rukia Sheikh Yussuf is cooking an extra meal a day for her six children after receiving a distribution of food aid from a local Somali NGO in Wadajir IDP camp in southern Somalia’s drought-hit Gedo region.
“We were cooking just one meal a day, but now since receiving the food aid, we have been cooking twice a day. Although the food we received is little, it has still brought quite a change to the way we have been living,” said Rukia, a single mother.
She is among 950 destitute families displaced to camps in Luq and Dollow by drought and conflict in Gedo and Bakool regions, who are each being given a three months’ supply of food by Gedo-based NGO, Somali Humanitarian Relief Action (SHRA).
Rukia fled with her children to Luq in April, after losing 70 goats and 20 cows to drought in their home village of Miro-dhoobow, 25km away. For her first two months in Luq, she went out to work as a labourer on local farms to provide for her family. However, when the rains failed the farm work also dried up.
“We survived by picking lemons on the farms, but the failed rain has left the farms dry. We have been depending on loans since then,” Rukia said.
She built a hut herself from locally available materials in Wadajir camp. It is tiny and cramped for her and the children and barely offers any shelter from the weather.
As the IDP camps in Luq have not received any food distributions for a year, newcomers to the camp could not rely on help from the existing camp residents, who are also struggling.
Rukia says she was given a food card and on 26 August received the first distribution of 30 kilograms of rice, 20 kilograms of flour, 15 kilograms of sugar, 10 kilograms of beans and three litres of oil. The next ration was due on 15 September.
The head of SHRA’s food reserves, Abdifatah Hire Ali, said they selected the most vulnerable families among newly displaced families, after visiting the camps to assess people’s needs and livelihoods. They observed that the new families were suffering hardship.
They selected 450 families in Luq and 500 in Dollow, out of a total number of more than 10,000 internally displaced families in the two districts.
Some of the families who received the aid said they sold a portion of it to buy other food they needed.
Abshiro Hussein Jama, a widowed mother of five, sold five kilograms each of rice and flour for $10 and used the money to buy vegetables to make soup for the family.
“The food we received was dry; it didn’t come with any vegetables, so I was forced to sell a portion of it to raise money for vegetables. We are eating well now,” she said.
Abshiro fled to Luq in March after losing 100 goats in Quracle village, Bakool region. She has been begging money for food by the roadside as she has no relatives to help her in Luq. She says she hopes the support will be extended beyond two months.
“We cook two to three kilograms of food each night. I wonder how our life will be once the food assistance stops – will we return to our previous situation?” she asked. “I have to support my elderly mother and my disabled sister on top of my orphaned children.”