Horn of Africa: With no camels left, Somali pastoralists face journey’s end

16 Nov 2011

Thousands of animals have perished because of drought in Somalia. Credit: IRIN/Mohamed Gaarane
housands of animals have perished because of drought in Somalia. Credit: IRIN/Mohamed Gaarane

The dark clouds of the seasonal gu rains may be on the horizon earlier than expected, but for many people in the village of Docol it’s already too late.

Like other pastoralists in Somalia, Nadifa’s life has changed beyond recognition over the past few months.

“Life was beautiful, we had good livestock and good rains, but gradually the rainfall situation deteriorated and our living conditions therefore also deteriorated,” she said.

Nadifa’s family lived a nomadic life, moving to where the pasture was good for their livestock. They had a thriving business, selling milk and meat from goat herds. But the drought had a devastating effect and the animals started to die. The camels died first, so the family could no longer move to find better grazing. Then the herds themselves started to shrink.

“We could not continue living in the rural areas with so few livestock, and the pack camels we were using as transport died, so that’s why we came to this settlement,” Nadifa explained. They came to Docol, a village in the Mudug region of Central Somalia.

“Only God knows how life is here. My sons have no jobs, I can’t work, my husband can’t work and we have only 10 goats left.”

But at least here they have found help in the form of distributions by the World Food Programme (WFP), supported by the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).

Each month they receive enough to feed their family of eight, and for that they are grateful. Nadifa says she does not know what the future will hold. But she gazes towards the dark clouds and wonders if they may provide the answer.

Relief arrives to Central and South Somalia

CERF is a humanitarian fund established by the United Nations to provide timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflict.

In 2011, the fund has provided more than US$52 million to six United Nations agencies in Somalia to support urgent humanitarian interventions, $16 million of which has been given to WFP this year.

On 20 July, a famine was declared in southern parts of Somalia, which has been further exacerbated by years of armed conflict and recent rains. CERF, together with United Nations agencies and NGO partners, reacted quickly to the crisis.

"The situation in Somalia is one of the worst humanitarian crises the world has had to deal with in recent years,” said Stefano Porretti, WFP Representative for Somalia.

“It is through the contributions from the CERF and our other donors that WFP has been able to react swiftly by scaling up and adding to our existing programmes that help the most needy people, especially children, and save many lives."

Through WFP and CERF assistance, more than 1.3 million people are being reached with life-saving food assistance.

More>>  Horn of Africa crisis

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