East Africa crisis: With drought everywhere, there is nowhere to go

By: 
CARE
A tent camp of people who have walked miles in search of water

Sirad Umar Bayr (aged 60) and her extended family (her seven children and their children) used to have more than a hundred goats and other livestock. Now all their livestock are dead. Their last remaining animals died on their journey in search of water. Sirad said:

“In my life, I have never experienced such a severe drought. It has killed all animals, including camels, donkeys, and goats.”

Our livelihood was our livestock and they no longer exist.

A woman and children in Somalia

Sirad (above) now stays at a temporary camp based around a shallow well of barely drinkable water in the Sanaag region of Somaliland. There are hundreds of other displaced households there. Sirad explains:

The people you see here now are the strongest ones, who are capable of walking. The weak ones had to stay behind.

Women at a drying-out water source in Somalia
Women taking water from a water source that hundreds of families rely upon

Water and shelter are among the most urgent needs. Large families share small huts made of sticks and whatever sheeting they can find. As the shallow well is drying out, the water’s increasing salinity is particularly unhealthy for children and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Sirad adds:

“We came here for water and it is a very scarce resource here. We have to stand hours in a queue to get water from the well.”

All I can say now is, you see our situation, and we need any help provided to us as soon as possible. We are in a severe drought and we desperately need help.

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A woman holds her child in Somalia

Nura Abdi Nuur (above) is a mother of seven children aged eight months to 30 years. She says:

This is the worst drought we have ever experienced.

They walked 90km on foot to get to the camp. Due to malnutrition, unhygienic living conditions and the increasing salinity of water from the drying well, diseases such as influenza and stomach problems are common. Nura tells us that several of her children have coughs and diarrhoea.

You can see how it is: no food, no water, no income.

CARE is paying people to help clean the water stream – providing them with an income to buy food and other supplies, while improving water supplies for camp residents. We are also providing food vouchers.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.