Recurrent droughts and locust infestations are affecting the livelihoods of vulnerable communities in Somalia. In many areas, this has led to severe humanitarian needs.
One of the major effects of drought is displacement. People are increasingly being forced to move from drought-affected rural villages to urban and semi-urban areas to seek humanitarian assistance and better opportunities.
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Ayan Mohamed Said, 37, is a mother of three children. She is currently displaced within Somalia and living in Lebigun village, in the northern region of Togdher.
Before the drought, life was good for Ayan and her family. She had a large number of livestock – camels, goats and sheep. But then everything changed.
When the drought came, Ayan lost all her livestock due to the lack of water and pasture. She and her three children were forced to walk long distances in search of food and shelter.
“We were pastoralists and our livelihood was mainly livestock. The drought decimated our livestock and put my family at risk of severe hunger. I was not able to feed my children. I remember several nights when my children went to bed without eating,” she says.
“Our situation got worse and worse,” Ayan continues. “We became hopeless, and as a mother, I couldn’t watch my children starving day in day out. I decided to move to the urban areas in search of food. We finally reached here [Lebigun village], where we could barely scrape a living through the small assistance received from our relatives.”
Life-saving cash assistance
Ayan is one of the beneficiaries of NRC’s life-saving assistance project in Togdher Region, which is generously funded by the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO). Hers was among 500 drought-affected families that received monthly cash assistance of USD 85 for a period of four months.
Ayan received the cash through her mobile phone each month. It significantly improved the living conditions for her and her family.
“The cash assistance allowed me to sustain my family’s basic needs,” she explains. “I was able to buy food, medicine, household items, and a goat to milk for my children. The cash also enabled me to pay off my debts.”
She continues: “If you have cash, you can buy whatever you want. The cash allowed me to buy what I needed most. Our situation is now getting much better. We have food in our house. My children used to sleep on the ground, but now they are sleeping on a mattress.”
Drought-affected families like Ayan’s, who lost all their livestock during the drought, will take some time to recover and get back on their feet again. The cash assistance was a lifeline that enabled them to meet their basic needs with dignity and flexibility. The cash has also added value to local trade in areas where markets are functioning, even during the drought.