As prolonged drought is wreaking havoc across east Africa, the situation in Somalia is terrifyingly reminiscent of the 2011 famine, when over 250,000 Somalis lost their lives to hunger and disease.
The current drought is in fact the most severe in living memory in Somalia – the result of three failed rains in a row. The situation is so bad that two of the country’s major rivers – the Shabelle and the Jubba – have totally dried up. Even in 2011, it was possible to access water by digging into the river beds, but this time the water tables have run completely dry.
Wells have dried up, crops have failed and livestock, thirsty and hungry, are dying in massive numbers. Their carcasses lie scattered across the arid country landscape. Food prices are soaring and people have been left with no choice but to leave their homes and villages in search of food and water. An estimated 500,000 Somalis have been displaced from their homes so far, headed towards the towns and cities. This number is only set to increase.
In Mogadishu, hundreds of families are arriving into the displacement camps each week, having walked huge distances for days, sometimes weeks, in urgent search of food and water.
Abdullahi* is one of the many people who have undertaken the long trek. It took him nine days to reach Mogadishu. Back home, all thirty of his cattle died as a result of the drought. With his livelihood destroyed, and food and water in short supply, Abdullahi made the decision to leave his village and seek treatment for his four year old son, Abhsir*. His two other children remained at home with their uncle.