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When drought turns deadly

25 November 2021, Impact of Our Work

Without water, children’s survival is threatened

“It last rained one year and five months ago,” says 27-year-old Amina. She has three children to feed and educate, but with all her livestock dead and no way to earn an income in this barren region of Somalia, she can’t see a way out of their own personal hell.
In 2017, Amina and her children left their home in the countryside when the drought killed most of their livestock. In search of water and pasture for the last of their sheep and goats, they moved to the village, closer to her extended family, who were also struggling.
According to the UN, in 2021, Somalia is facing yet another drought, which is pushing the number of children and adults who need critical support to 5.9 million – a third of the population.

Things were different before the drought

In better times, Amina made a living from the land. “I lived in the countryside where we had health and wealth. During the dry season, we used to rely on our livestock and slaughter them,” she explains.
Now, the droughts occur more frequently and last longer. And without rain, things deteriorated rapidly. “My children became sick. One of them became severely malnourished. She was admitted to Save the Children's program and transferred to the hospital.”
Her daughter, Adia*, spent 15 days in hospital recovering from malnutrition. By the time she was discharged she was healthy and smiling. But now, in the midst of another drought, Amina’s fears for her children have returned.

Amina and her children are impacted by the drought in Somalia and receive support
from Save the Children's water trucking project.
Photo: Sacha Myers / Save the Children.

A mother’s guilt

Now there’s no food or water for the children, let alone herself. Her youngest, Ahmed, is only two months old. Every night she rocks him as he cries from hunger.

Sometimes I have to carry my baby for the whole night because he's crying and I don't have enough breastmilk to give him because I don't have enough food to eat. I also cannot give him other supplementary food because I cannot afford it and I have no livestock. When he cries all night, it makes me worried.


Adia, who battled the odds to recover from malnutrition, is once again on the edge of starvation. Eight-year-old Sahra, who loves dancing and singing, is bereft.
“Because we don’t have enough water and food for my family, my sisters and my mother are going hungry. I want to get enough food, enough water and an education, Sahra says.
Amina can’t shake her concern. “My children have fevers and during the day, they cry and ask for food. I give them Somali tea and sometimes the family I live with buys milk from the market, and if they have enough, they give some to my children. It's bad to only give the children Somali tea because it's not food. They may come down with diarrhoea, fever and vomiting,” says Amina.

A Save the Children truck carrying a shipment of water to villages in Somaliland that have been affected
by the drought.
Photo: Colin Crowley/Save the Children.

Some relief while waiting for rain

While they wait for the rain to come, Amina is grateful for the water trucks sent by Save the Children, thanks to our generous supporters. Finally, they had safe, clean water. The children continue to be screened for malnutrition and cash grants have supported the family.
“The water trucking program started a few weeks ago and thank God it's helped a lot. Without the water trucking project, things would have been a lot worse.”

Names have been changed to protect their identity.

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