The UN estimates that more than half of the 6.2 million residents of Somalia need emergency food aid. Among those in dire need, the nomadic herders of Somaliland, a breakaway state in Somalia, see their very way of life imperiled by drought.
Famine has threatened nearly 20 million people since the start of 2017 in Somalia, northern Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan. The South Sudanese government announced in mid-February that several of the countries’ regions had already been affected. The UN on Wednesday sounded the alarm, saying it had collected less than a third of the funds needed to avert a new widespread famine. The appeal to donors for $864 million in funds to contain the crisis is due to be revised upward.
Somalia, embroiled in a political and security crisis over the past two decades, has already experienced two famines in 25 years, due in particular to exceptional droughts. During the 2011 famine, 260,000 people died in Somalia. “The international reaction at the time was clearly too slow. Today, we can still avoid the worst-case scenario,” Dominik Stillhart, director of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), told the Swiss daily Le Temps. The UN estimates that more than half of the 6.2 million residents of Somalia need emergency food aid, including the 363,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition.
Photographer Mustafa Saeed travelled to Somaliland, a self-declared independent region in northern Somalia, to bear witness to the ravages of the drought and the threat of famine weighing on nomadic herders’ way of life. They have already lost much of their livestock (sheep, goats and camels) and have had to settle at the edges of urban centres in order to receive help from locals and non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
"We need everything: food, water, supplies,” says Milgo, outside Kiridh. As her livestock die off, her children are malnourished. “My children are sick; they all have colds, are constantly coughing. We're only able to feed them one meal of boiled rice each day.”
Fardus and her six children moved to a settlement in Ainabo after their livestock died. “I came here so that my children might have something to eat," she says. Pastoralists are abandoning nomadic life for small cities, hoping for aid from local communities and NGOs.
“Sometimes, after we've shouted for help, the water trucks will leave some water in the small pools dug in the ground around the camp,” says pastoralist Khadra Mohamed with her twins, who moved to an informal settlement outside Yogoori after most of their animals died.
Deeqa’s family, outside Kiridh, has lost 100 head of cattle to the drought and the few surviving livestock are too weak to be valuable. "We don't have access to clean water and as a mother, I don't even have enough food to feed my children," she says.
Hodan, a mother of five in Kiridh, has lost more than half her cattle to drought. She is struggling to feed her children and to find treatment for her son, aged 2, blinded by illness as an infant and now suffering from malnutrition. The nearest hospital is hours away.
"Our family had several hundred livestock but only twenty have survived the drought," says Amina, with her granddaughter, pictured in front of a makeshift shelter in an informal settlement outside the town of Yogoori, Somaliland.
Indhodeeq (centre), her husband Noor, who is blind, and her daughter Hodan, who fell ill after giving birth, had to abandon their life as rural herders for refuge in Kiridh after losing more than 100 animals to drought. Townspeople gave them this small shed to live in.
This article was translated from the original, in French.
Date created : 2017-03-24