Maryam Jamageedi’s family have been rearing livestock in central Somalia’s Galgaduud region for generations. Both her and her eight children depend on their animals for survival. And yet, in the past few months, nearly half of their sheep and goats have died of thirst.
Drought and famine caused by the El Nino weather phenomenon has plunged large areas of East and South Africa into serious drought and famine, including Somalia, where a staggering 40% of the country’s population do not currently have enough food and water. Communities already ravaged by conflict, poverty and the 2011 famine which killed over a quarter of a million people, are ill equipped to deal with yet more devastation.
Maryam and her daughters have to walk over 9 km through the dry, parched desert just to fetch water. As well as being utterly exhausting and very time consuming, these long journeys also leave the female members of the family vulnerable to harassment and assault, a very real risk for women all over the region who are having to travel long distances to the nearest source of water.
Unfortunately, the situation is deteriorating. Crops are failing, animals are dying and according to the UN, over 50,000 children in Somalia alone face death from severe malnutrition. When asked what she needs right now, Maryam’s answer is heartbreakingly simple, ‘Water, food and medical care for our children and sick animals-our only source of income’. The basic essentials of life that no one in the world should have to do without.