Water crisis for herders in Southern Somalia’s remote Lower Juba

biyo-yari-xoolo-waraabin(ERGO) –  A severe water shortage has been reported by local people in Hagar town and surrounding rural villages in southern Somalia’s Lower Juba region, after water pans and dams dried up.

Hagar district has no wells and received barely any rainfall over the past eight months. This remote part of the region is under Al-Shabab control.

JAPDO, a local NGO conducting an assessment of the situation in the area, estimated about 6,000 people in Hagar town and 10 villages in the district were affected by the water shortage. The affected villages are Qaley, Qalawiley, Hassan Baraki, Bareytama, Nasiriya, Shabeley, Dhaifa, Afgoye, Warta Badiyow and Tosiley.

Local people contacted Radio Ergo through the mobile Freedom Fone call-in service requesting attention to the crisis affecting them.

A herder, who asked for anonymity for security reasons, said that two children had died of thirst in Dhaifa village, where he lived, 40 km from Hagar town. He said the only water pan (locally called war) in the village that people and their livestock depended on had dried up. He estimated up to 250 cattle and goats had died due to the lack of water and pasture.

Around one third of the 300 pastoralist families who lived in Dhaifa have been displaced and moved to villages located near the river Juba hoping to access water.  About 100 families are remaining in the village and depend on water brought by tankers.

The herder said he had taken his 10 member family to Hagar town where there was also a water shortage and those who could afford it were buying water from commercial vendors.  He was planning to move to riverine villages in Middle Juba region.

Hassan Mohamud Yusuf, the director of JAPDO, told Radio Ergo that residents in Hagar currently depended on water brought by tankers from the river, about 90 km from the town. He noted that a 20 litre jerry can cost 23,000 Somali shillings ($1) whereas a month ago the cost was 6,000 Somali shillings (25 cents).

The drought in the district started to worsen in early August. Migrating herding families seeking water have been arriving in Jilalow village in Middle Juba, Afmadow town in Lower Juba, and Fafahdun in Gedo region.

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