Trapped between drought and violence in the Horn of Africa

barren, barren plains. This is what much of the Horn of Africa looks like now that it has rained far too little for four consecutive seasons. Crops have failed, cattle have died and more than 14 million people in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia are starving. Because there are also all kinds of complicated conflicts, the situation seems more hopeless than ever and many people are on the run. How do you survive in a country where nothing grows? Four people tell.

Faadumo: “My daughter was completely raised”

Faadumo Ali is from Somalia and has three children. Her daughter Icran Abdiaziz was severely malnourished and had edema. She needed medical attention, it was clear. So Faadumo and her children traveled to the hospital for three days and two nights. “My daughter was completely raised,” Faadumo says. She stays with the girl while she receives treatment. Fortunately, she is quickly getting better at the Kismayo Stabilization Center. “She is still a little tired and she is still swollen, but the swelling is less severe than it was. She is much better off, says Faadumo relieved.

Faadumo’s daughter is one of many children severely malnourished in Somalia. “In the region where I come from, there is only hunger. There has been no rain for a long time. People are fleeing because of hunger. They have nothing left. They can no longer continue with their daily lives. ”

Faadumo Ali and her daughter

Ahmed: “We lost 50 of the 70 camels”

Due to the persistent drought, many shepherds in the Horn of Africa no longer have food for their livestock. There are conflicts in far more fertile areas, and as a result, shepherds cannot just graze their livestock elsewhere. Hundreds of thousands of animals are already dead and these numbers are rising rapidly.

Ahmed Mohamud is one of the shepherds who saw his animals die: “Because of the drought we lost 50 of the 70 camels we had. Some shepherds have even lost all their animals. I know a man who had many animals, different kinds, and they all died. Now he is sitting aimlessly waiting for what is to come. ”

Ahmed and the other shepherds do everything they can to get through the drought seasons. “It’s our reality we’re trying to survive. The droughts follow one another quickly. When we have a dry season, we try to be brave. We feed our animals when we can. We also ask people to feed us. But “There is no food. The earth is bone-dry. Many people who have lost their animals have become refugees.”

Ahmed Mohamud with the remaining camels

Weyzero: “Conflicts and droughts have hit us hard”

Drought is not the only cause of famine in the Horn of Africa. Conflicts also make it difficult to continue producing food. The northern region of Tigray in Ethiopia has been a battlefield since 2020. One million people have fled the violence. The people who have become have a hard time getting the seeds and fertilizer they need to grow crops. There is a great shortage of food.

Weyzero Haregu Teshale lives in the region: “The conflicts in our region and the ongoing drought have hit our communities hard. Because of the conflicts, we have all had to leave our homes without being able to take anything of value with us. All children and women are hiding in the mountains.”

To still have food, they grow their own food. But it is not easy. Therefore, they get fertilizer from the Red Cross. “For our food supply, we receive fertilizer for the soil from the Red Cross, which we are very happy about. Without fertilizer we can not grow crops and we are lost. “

Weyzero Haregu Teshale in Ethiopia

Mohamed: “If we lose our animals, we lose them too”

Today’s drought is not Somalia’s first natural disaster. More than 30 climate-related disasters have hit the country since 1990, including droughts, floods and locust plagues. That is a tripling compared to the previous two decades.

It is becoming increasingly difficult for shepherds to keep their livestock alive. There is little room to recover from a previous disaster. The shepherd Mohamed Hassan Gure also notes: “The latest drought, which started in 2021, killed our last animal. During the earlier droughts, many of our animals recovered, but they still died of other factors. Like the locust plague. The grasshoppers ate our crops. Our animals died because we could not feed them anymore. We only had 50 animals left. Of those, 30 died from the heavy rainfall that followed, and then only 20 remained. ”

People in Somalia are dependent on their animals. They provide not only food but also an income. “The rural population is dependent on the animals. If we lose our animals, we are also lost. If your animals die, you die with them. ”

Cartoon with four victims of the ongoing extreme drought and conflict in the Horn of Africa.
Mohamed Hassan Gure

14 million more …

More than 14 million people in the Horn of Africa, like Faadumo and Mohamed, are burdened with great uncertainty: Is there enough food for the family tomorrow? The Red Cross helps them with food, water and medical care. Support our donation to the Horn of Africa and donate to Giro 6251 (IBAN NL58INGB0000006251

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