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Somaliland drought threatens pastoral communities


55-year old Amina comes from a long line of herders. Years of insufficient rainfall and climate change have put her work and family at risk, forcing them out of their home and way of life.

Amina (center), stands with her husband (left) and one of her three children (right) in front of their new home in a Hargeisa displacement camp. 2022. © HI

Amina (center), stands with her husband (left) and one of her three children (right) in front of their new home in a Hargeisa displacement camp. 2022. © HI | © HI

Drought threatens livelihoods

 Like the majority of people from Decarta, Somaliland, an agro-pastoral community, Amina and her family are herders. She has been rearing animals since she was a child and has been able support her family with her work until recently. Unfortunately, the growing effects of climate change have brought serious consequences for her livelihood and way of life.

“There has been a huge impact on my family and my whole community,” Amina says. “I once owned 20 cows and 20 goats, but we have lost them all in the drought.”

Amina used to depend solely on her animals for income and food to care for her three children and husband, who is deaf and has a mental disability[1]. A long period of dramatically reduced rainfall and extreme temperatures made it impossible to feed livestock or keep the animals hydrated, affecting many pastoral families like Amina’s. At least one person affected by the drought in the Togdheer region has also died of dehydration.

Families forced to flee

Without their animals, Amina and her family have been forced to leave their rural home and move-in with her older son in a camp for internally displaced persons in Hargeisa, a city over 50km away.

“It has been very difficult,” Amina explains. “Life in the city is very tough and expensive. We cannot work because we never went to school. We cannot go back because the drought is happening every year and nothing is going to change that.”

Her oldest son is working odd jobs to cover their basic needs, but says he is struggling to adapt.

The drought is worsening and continues to spread across the country, causing further displacement and putting millions at risk. Amina pleads for the government and institutions to develop a clear plan to minimize the impact of recurring droughts, and wishes people would build wells and water reserves to cope with the change in rainfall.

After generations of herding, Amina may be the last in her family to raise livestock for a living. She now plans to settle in Hergeisa and enroll her children in technical schools so that they will have the skills to thrive in their new life in the city.

HI supports affected families

HI has been working in Somaliland for 30 years, and has been providing support to communities affected by severe droughts since they began in 2017. HI provides cash assistance, access to water supply and helps assure the survival of livestock for pastoral communities alongside specialized partner organizations[2]. HI also works to ensure that vulnerable populations, displaced persons and persons with disabilities have access to humanitarian aid as well as rehabilitation and psychosocial support services.

GREEN Initiative: HI is committed to reducing the adverse effects of climate change on vulnerable and marginalized populations worldwide. We help communities prepare for and adapt to climate shocks and stresses, and we respond to crises magnified by environmental factors. Applying a disability, gender and age (DGA) inclusion lens across all our actions, we advocate for practitioners and policy-makers to embed DGA in their climate work as well. HI is also determined to reduce its own ecological footprint by adapting and implementing environmentally conscious approaches to humanitarian action.

[1] HI supports Amina by financing transportation costs for her husband’s care and services at a specialized hospital. They are also being referred to a public hospital in Hargeisa to access free services.

[2] Veterinarians Without Borders, Concern Worldwide, Welthungerhilfe

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