Affected by Drought

This was my first time to see how the drought was affecting people first hand. I live in the city of Hargeisa, and living in the city we’re not always aware of the realities faced by the pastoralists in the rural areas of Somaliland. So goingout and meeting these families, talking to them, and listening to them as they expressed their fears and their needs was any eye-opening experience for me, and it wasn’t always easy to do.

These pastoralist families are representative of the many Somali families across the Horn of Africa who are affected by this drought. Their livestock is their bank account – it is the currency that they depend on to live, and they have been watching their animals die in front of their eyes.

Still, with everything these people are going through, they still remain optimistic. They are still waiting for help, telling me about their needs for food, water, and shelter. It is a rare thing in our culture for people to express their emotions and their fears like this to a stranger, so I was really touched by how honest people were when they told me about the realities they are facing.

This was an overwhelming experience for me. Most of these households are currently headed by women because the husbands have been forced travel with the surviving livestock in search of pasture or markets. The women too have had to move with their families to new locations, and several of them the fear that they will not be able to protect themselves and their children from many of the threats they are facing in their new surroundings. It was hard for me to listen to people express their fears like this and know that I still had to carry on with my job of documenting their situation.

So overall, it was an emotionally exhausting experience. Especially seeing the scale of the situation and knowing there are so many people out there who need our help. But whatever difficulties I faced when taking these photos, I know it is nothing when compared to the emotional state of these families who are suffering from the drought.

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© Mustafa Saeed 2017