IRC helps Central Somalia cope with drought
Maryan Ali (left), who cares for her two orphaned granddaughters, was given $250 to help buy food after losing most of her livestock to the drought. Her son Mohammed is earning cash for work. (Photo: The IRC)
Severe drought is crippling many parts of Somalia, causing water and food shortages and high malnutrition rates among nomadic herders. Adding to the misery are civil conflict, displacement and rising commodity prices.
The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is responding in the Mudug region of central Somalia, where a lack of precipitation during the October to December rainy season has led to a large loss of livestock. Many towns and villages have taken in nomadic herders and other displaced families who have lost their animals.
The IRC is supporting the herding families by providing them with an opportunity to earn cash for labor on community projects such as road repair. Household members who are unable to perform labor-intensive work are given cash with no conditions. The European Commission Humanitarian Organization and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance are partners in the program.
“When the rains fail, the grazing pastures dry up and people who depend on cattle for a living start losing their livelihoods,” said Sergio Trevisan, the IRC’s country director for Somalia. “We are providing crucial assistance to fill the gap for the poorest of this region’s communities.”
Since August 2010, the IRC has distributed $294,000 in 20 locations across Mudug region, benefitting 1,800 households – almost 11,000 people.
Maryan Ali, a 73-year-old grandmother, lives in a village about 35 miles south of Galkacyo town, Mudug’s major urban center. She moved there a few months ago after losing most of her animals to the drought. She was given $250 to help buy food, and her son Mohammed is earning cash for work.
Maryan has only 11 goats left from what had been a large herd and is taking care of two orphaned granddaughters. Despite her losses, she is hopeful and thankful. “This has been God-sent help,” she says. “I appreciate and thank all those who decided to assist me at this difficult time. I used all the money to buy food and if I get more money, I will build a house for my granddaughters.”
Maryan’s neighbor, Nadhifo Abdullahi, (center) with some of her children (Photo: The IRC)
Maryan’s neighbor Nadhifo Abdullahi is a mother of eight children and has lived in the same village for seven years. Now that her family’s goat herd has been severely depleted, she depends on the income from the casual labor of her husband, Noor. The plight of the Abdullahi's was identified by a village committee that recommended the family for the cash-for-work program. Village committees are formed by the IRC after consulting with the communities themselves. The IRC conduct workshops and training with members of committees before they set about identifying and registering the cash beneficiaries.
“The village committee knew of our condition,” explains Nadhifo, “That is why they considered me during the registration.”
The IRC is continuing to support communities affected by the drought by providing cash for work activities, water and food vouchers.