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Free school places given to displaced pastoralist children in Mudug


Four schools south of Mudug’s capital, Galkayo, have given free places to displaced children whose pastoralist families have been made destitute by the drought.

Around 135 such children, including 45 girls, aged between seven and 13 are in school for the first time.

The administrations of Abdulahi Isse, Waberi, Mudug, and Al-Sha’ab schools have waived the monthly fee of $10 per child for the displaced children.

Abdiaziz Adan, principal of Al-Sha’ab primary and secondary school, said 46 boys and 21 girls had been enrolled in his school after a committee of local students brought their plight to the school’s attention.

The district administration in southern Galkayo said 4,000 destitute families, who lost their livestock to the drought in rural areas of Mudug, have come to live in IDP camps in Galkayo. Others are staying with their relatives in the town.

Ismail Mohamed, a father of nine, said he seized the opportunity to take his three daughters and two sons to Al-Sha’ab school. His family once owned 170 goats but they all perished in the devastating drought. The family fled from Bitale village, 40 km from Galkayo, at the beginning of last year.

He is delighted to see his children get free education. He is unemployed and his family lives off their relatives. Ismail wants to learn a new trade as he will not be going back to the pastoral life in the rural area.

The principal of Al-Sha’ab said they were encouraging IDP families to bring their children to school. These children are being integrated into existing classes.

Fahmo Hussein, 50, and her six children have been displaced from Kahandale, 130 km from Galkayo. She was worried that she would not be able to afford school fees for her children but a scholarship opportunity from Abdullahi Isse school two months ago enabled two of her daughters, aged nine and 13 years, to start formal education for the first time.

Fahmo, who lives in Hayan camp on the outskirts of Galkayo, fled from the rural areas at the end of last year, after losing her 240 goats. She now depends on her relatives in town for financial support including buying stationery and uniform for her children.

New grass offers hope for livestock herders in Somaliland


A new type of grass introduced to agro-pastoralists in Somaliland is showing signs of success as a way of keeping livestock fed under drought conditions.

The grass seeds, imported from Colombia, are resilient to hot climates and require little water to grow. Seeds were given to 35 families to grow over a two-year period in Arabsiyo, Huluk, Agasmaha, Gal-dawo, El-baxay and Lafta-tiin villages in Gabiley, 45 km west of Hargeisa.

According to scientists from the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), the Kenya-based research institute leading the project, the grass is more nutritious for livestock than other local vegetation and reduces the costs to herders of providing livestock feed when drought occurs.

“This type of grass, called Barakariya, thrives in hot, dry areas. It is different from local types and it can grow in a week or two. It has other benefits as well as it does not need much water and it can withstand drought. We have introduced it hoping it can bring resilience among the people,” said Dr Mohamed Hassan Mohamud, ICIPE project director.

Abdikadir Aw-Mohamud Ahmed planted the new grass to try to keep the remainder of his herd alive. Only eight of his cows survived the drought but he said they are now thriving.

“Since I planted the grass the cows are getting healthier and stronger, three of them are pregnant and I can get up to five litres of milk a day. This is all because of the constant pasture the livestock have got now,” Abdikadir said

Farhan Ibrahim Yusuf, another agro-pastoralist, told Radio Ergo’s local reporter that he spent $400 feeding his livestock last year and could not afford it again. The new grass has saved him a lot of money.

“The cows are producing abundant milk, whenever they eat they become full in no time. They don’t need much now and the grass doesn’t need a lot of labour, it grows as soon as you plant it,” he said.

Families can access the grass seeds free of charge from the Ministry of Livestock in Somaliland. Word is spreading to other regions.

Dr Mohamed said the preliminary stage of testing the grass has been successful.

“We have seen the benefits of the grass and it is doing well in the country. It has saved livestock and it is cheap. We want to spread it to rest of the country based on the success of this phase,” he said.



From herding to fishing – tough transition for Mudug’s destitute pastoralists


Three hundred pastoralist families migrating away from drought-hit villages in rural parts of southern Mudug have arrived over the past four weeks in the coastal district of Hobyo, where they are struggling to make ends meet.

The herders are from Harardere, El-dibir, El-Adde, Saqiiro and Sugulle villages where water and pasture dried up after three consecutive years of drought.

Hobyo locals are mostly fishermen, whilst the scores of IDPs arriving have no experience in fishing makes it hard for them to find food.

Hiis Mohamed Jimale and his family of nine came from Sugulle village, 28 km from Hobyo. Hiis goes to the beach every morning with his two sons, who are used to herding livestock but are lucky if they are able to catch a single fish in a day.

“We migrated to Hobyo when we got worried about how we could survive. Water is very essential and we are able to get good water here,” Hiis said.  They get free water from a shared well a kilometre away.

Hiis, 60, who previously had 300 goats, cows and goats, arrived in Hobyo with only 13 animals.

Habibo Abdulle was in despair after the drought hit in in her village 37 km away and the family’s 200 animals all died. Her husband died and so she took her nine children by truck to Hobyo, using a loan to pay the fare.

Habibo and her children are now living in some small huts they put together using bags and sticks under a tree. The shelters cannot protect them from the expected rain that has begun in parts of the country. Her main worry, however, is finding food for her children, as the rice and flour she got from her relatives is fast running out. She knows nobody to borrow from in Hobyo.

The deputy district commissioner, Mohamed Mohamud Awale, told Radio Ergo it was important that people had a chance to learn new skills to be able to survive in a new environment.  Habibo, for example, has no skills to offer in the market place of Hobyo. The authorities say they are discussing with UN agencies support for training opportunities for the displaced pastoralists to adapt to new lifestyles.

Child deaths from diarrhoea in remote part of Mudug

Photo | Sawir/haweenka carruurta kula cisbitaalka/Baydhabo/Muxuyadiin Muxsin/Ergo

Seven children died from diarrhoeal disease in October in a remote part of Somalia’s Mudug region, according to staff at a small locally run health centre.

The manager of the health centre in Budbud, Safiyo Mohamed, told Radio Ergo the children died between 19 and 26 October.

“The diarrhoea infection has been spreading in Budbud for 20 days now and we don’t have many facilities in the clinic. We offer the services we can to these vulnerable people. Extremely sick individuals are transported by our ambulance to Galkayo,” Safiyo said.

Budbud lies 165 km south east of Galkayo, Mudug’s main city, towards the coast.

The journey takes a whole day on rough roads in the ambulance, donated to the clinic by the international NGO Mercy USA. The ambulance goes only once a week, however, with a maximum capacity of three people at a time.

Around 60 patients, mostly children, are being cared for at home as the clinic is already full. Families are told they can bring the patients to the clinic for treatment and medicine but not for admission.

Safiyo said around 10 sick people are being brought to the clinic every day and their capacity to cope is over-stretched.

“The worst cases were are getting are children, because the children are generally malnourished due to the drought. Also they are drinking contaminated water as there are no other sources of water available,” Safiyo said.

Water supply in the area is very low and reservoirs are visibly discoloured with dirt.

Malabo Abdi Hassan, a mother of seven, is worried about her five-month-old baby, who caught the diarrhoeal infection from his older siblings. The family lives in a makeshift hut under a tree after being displaced from a rural part of Mudug where their livestock died in the drought.

“Three of the children are now suffering from the disease, the youngest is the worst affected, the other two are not very bad although they have watery diarrhoea. The baby is dehydrated and vomiting. Whenever I take him to the hospital they give him injections but he has not recovered. I think he has other problems as he is restless and in pain. He was skinny before but now he is sick he has become desperately thin,” Malabo told Radio Ergo.

Malabo said transporting her baby son to Galkayo would cost $400 and she could not afford it.

First maternity services for somali women in villages around buhodle


– When Abdirhaman Mohamud Farah’s wife went in to labour and developed complications, he knew there was no-one in the village who could help her.

As quickly as he could, he arranged to take her to a hospital in Buhodle, on the Somali-Ethiopian border, 75 km away from their village.  Mother and baby came through the ordeal.

But Abdirahman was left with medical bills of $500.  He managed to sell 20 goats and settled the debts.

That was two years ago.  Last month, however, when his wife went into labour with their next child, the circumstances were dramatically different.

A team of female health workers from the new Widhwidh mother and child health centre was despatched to their home in the rural area to provide emergency assistance. The team helped Abdirahman’s wife to deliver her baby safely.

Abdirahman, 29, was thankful there was no charge for the services. He explained that times have been very hard for livestock herders like him and the drought has eroded the value of his animals.

“She was bleeding excessively when the medical team came. They treated her and she stopped bleeding. I am very grateful for the work they did. If they hadn’t come, I wouldn’t have been able to take her anywhere for help because I didn’t have any healthy animals to sell.  Most of my animals became very weak and thin due to the drought,” he said.

The Widwidh health teams serve 13 villages around Widhwidh, helping mainly rural women. They provide free healthcare services to pregnant women, deliver their babies, and provide postnatal care for mothers and new-borns.

The centre, the first in the area, was established three months ago by Amina Abdirahman Mohamed, who studied midwifery at the University of Hargeisa. She returned to Widhwidh a year ago determined to tackle the health challenges facing rural women and children.

Amina told Radio Ergo that maternal deaths in these areas used to be common. She said two women died after prolonged labour in May, just before the centre opened, because they could not get the medical care they needed in the village.

After a lengthy awareness campaign, women in rural and urban areas are now contacting the centre to access the services they need. Some of them come in to the centre at Widhwidh, while others receive home visits by the centre’s mobile health workers.

“There is a big difference now,” Amina said. “Even women in the rural areas contact us whenever they need medical help. So now the risks of maternal deaths occurring in this area are much less.”

Asha Ahmed, 37, delivered her sixth child a week ago at the centre. She told Radio Ergo she had given birth to her first five children at home in Widhwidh without any trained health worker to assist her.

“Only my female neighbours used to come to help me. The risk was very high and most of the time I lost a lot of blood,” she said.  She was happy to find that she and other women could now deliver safely at the health centre.

Amina runs the centre with two midwives and nine female nurses, whom she trained herself. The centre has an ambulance donated by Somali Aid Society (SAS) used for home visits to women in the villages and to transport patients.  The centre receives support from UNICEF through SAS.

Women dying in childbirth due to lack of health services in Bakool


Three women in Elbarde, a remote village in southern Somalia’s Bakool region, died this month due to lack of access to proper medical treatment during childbirth.

Women in the district have access only to traditional birth attendants, who are unable to help in cases of complications during or after delivery.

Mohamed Isaq Amin took his wife to hospital after she had been in prolonged labour for three days. The birth attendants in Elbarde said they could not help.

He took her by taxi to Godey, 140 km away across the border in southern Ethiopia, seeking medical attention at the closest modern hospital where the charges are reasonable.

“It was late, at around 3:00 am, she started having serious labour pains and we called the traditional midwives. They couldn’t do much, so we hired a car as there are no ambulances here. Unfortunately, as soon as we arrived [in Godey] she died.”

The fastest vehicle leaves Elbarde in the morning and reaches Godey at night. The trip costs around $500. Mohamed earns 100,000 Somali shillings ($4) a day working in a garage so the trip was already way more than he can afford.

Nasro Sheikh Ismail, one of three traditional birth attendants working in Elbarde, said she learned her trade through apprenticeship.

Nasro told Radio Ergo that she knew of 26 women in the area who died in childbirth related complications since January this year.

Some died on the road whilst being rushed long distances to a hospital, while others died within the village.

“We are midwives, we can only do so much, we can’t do blood transfusion, we can’t save people. The last two deaths were a week ago. There are some women who were losing blood profusely and when they are transported to the hospitals they die of shock before they make it to the hospital. We can’t do much in such emergency situations,” Nasro said.

Elbarde general hospital collapsed after the demise of the central government in 1991.

Ironically, Nasro herself is able to afford professional treatment and delivered her own babies in Godey.

“The doctor operated on me when I was giving birth to my first born in Godey, and I also underwent two other successful operation since then,” she said.

Meanwhile, Dool Hussein Mohamed, a mother of four, is six months pregnant and very worried about the pending birth of her fifth baby. She remembers the problems she encountered in her previous childbirths. She was in labour for three days with her last born and suffered from placenta retention afterwards.

“I am very worried now and I don’t know where else to go since I don’t have enough money,” Dool said.


Hyenas kill villagers in northwestern Somaliland

Photo | Sawir/dhismayaasha tuulada Qoriley/Cabdikariim/Ergo

Packs of hyenas have been attacking families and livestock in Seylac and Lughaya districts in Somaliland’s Awdal region, with reports from different sources confirming the deaths of three people and a number of injuries.

Ahmed Hussein Badmah, a member of the Lughaya council of elders, listed a 50-year old sheikh, a mentally ill man of 36, and an eight year old girl as those who had been killed by hyenas preying on Abdi-Geddi, Riigga ina Kalowle, and Ida Adeys villages.

Abdirashid Ibrahim Muse, manager of a local hospital in Abdi-Gedi village in Lughaya, told Radio Ergo that a hyena dragged off a one-year girl while he was asleep at night.  The child’s parents found her remains later.

Abdirashid said the hospital is currently treating two women who had limbs mauled by hyenas. He is concerned that the bites may be infected or that the hyenas were carrying rabies. The hospital has only basic facilities and medicines. The nearest major health centres are 150 km away in Hargeisa or 170 km in Borama.

Yurub Ahmed, aged six, was attacked by hyenas on Monday 2 October hyenas as she was sleeping. She lost some fingers on her right hand, and had bites to her head and arms.

“We woke up to her cries and managed to grab her before the hyenas dragged her away to eat her,” said Yurub’s uncle, Idris Sayid Ali. Yurub is back home after spending 12 days in hospital.

Idris said people cannot walk around at night and children are kept in their houses because of the fear of hyena attacks.

The nomadic pastoralists in this area believe the prolonged drought in Somaliland has destroyed the hyenas’ normal food supply. They report the killing of at least 150 domestic animals including donkeys by the hyenas.

The weather is currently very hot and people usually sleep outside their houses at night, making them more vulnerable to attack. Local police have been deployed by the administration to try to fend off the hyenas.

Mogadishu in need of a blood bank


Medical personnel are calling for the urgent reopening of national blood bank facilities in the Somali capital Mogadishu following the terrorist truck bomb disaster on 14 October that killed at least 358 people and injured more than 200.

Roble Ahmed Idle, a writer who volunteered with the Emergency Response Committee in the aftermath of the bombing, said the lack of blood raised the death toll. He knows five people who died as a result of a lack of available blood for transfusion in the course of rescue operations.

The deputy director of Mogadishu City hospital told Radio Ergo that three people died due to a lack of blood in the hospital. Staff members were able to donate blood to save 12 people. 41 injured people were admitted to this hospital.

The national blood bank facility in Mogadishu has been closed for 27 years. Displaced people have settled in the grounds and buildings of the facility. None of the hospitals or health centres have adequate blood storage facilities.

22-year-old tuk tuk driver Abdifatah Said Mohamed was sustained severe injuries in the blast as he was working with his taxi. He was one of the lucky ones to receive blood promptly from donors in the hospital

“There was no blood in store and there was a huge problem that had not been expected. Some people died of excessive blood loss,” he said.

Adnan Abdulahi Hussein, a member of the Somali Blood Donation group, said their volunteer group helped raise awareness of the need to give blood during the crisis. They registered donors and linked the blood donations to the patients needing blood.

Adnan said they were aware that some of the injured people would not have died in the ambulances or in hospitals if adequate blood supply had been available.

Radio Ergo helps combat Cholera outbreak in Somalia


Radio Ergo’s lifesaving broadcasts on how to get treatment for the deadly disease Cholera have had a positive impact on raising awareness in some of the poorest neighbourhoods of the Somali capital Mogadishu.

Radio Ergo aired daily announcements informing listeners about the way Cholera spreads and how to avoid it.  From June, the broadcasts included detailed information of the location of free health centres in the Mogadishu district of Wadajir, where the highest number of Cholera cases were being recorded.

The United Nations (UN) reports that there have been close to 1,200 deaths from Cholera in Somalia since the start of the outbreak in January.  Most of the deaths were children under the age of five.

Somalia has been in the grip of a harsh drought that has destroyed hundreds of thousands of people’s livestock and crops and left them displaced and destitute. The lack of food and access to safe drinking water made such vulnerable people more susceptible to diseases, including Cholera.

Maryan Hussein Omar, a displaced mother living in an IDP camp in Mogadishu, heard the information she needed on the radio.

“Honestly, I had no clue about the free health centre in Mogadishu – I thought everything had a price tag attached, but I later realized that was not true. I was listening to our camp leader’s radio in Badbado camp. Radio Ergo was on air talking about free health services for the mothers and children. I visited the health centre the next day with my daughter who had diarrhoea. We both received medical attention and my daughter is now getting better.”

Staff at Djibouti health centre in Wadajir said the radio announcements had led to a more than doubling of the numbers of people seeking treatment.

The Cholera outbreak in Somalia has been brought under control and the UN has not reported any deaths from the disease since August.“After Radio Ergo aired the broadcasts in June, we saw 1,000 patients visiting the health centre in each of the following two months. Previously, we used to serve 400 patients in a month. The numbers have risen dramatically and our services are being enjoyed by the people every day,” said Ilyas Abukar Mohamed, a member of the health centre’s management committee.

Lisho Abarone Abdi, a displaced mother of four daughters and five sons, said she was grateful to Radio Ergo for informing her about the existence of a free health centre within reach of her current home.

“I wasn’t aware of any free hospitals as I am a displaced person living in Wadani IDP camp. I joined the camp six months ago when the terrible drought hit Bakool region [in southern Somalia] and I lost my lifeline including 26 goats, nine cows and my farmland. I took my son and daughter who were suffering from diarrhoea to the centre and they gave us good services.  I and my children visit this hospital regularly now for checkups.”

Radio Ergo is working to strengthen communication between Somali communities and the humanitarian agencies through the Common Feedback project.  As part of this project, Ergo broadcasts lifesaving information using shortwave and FM rebroadcasts across Somalia to support the interventions of the agencies.

Displaced in Mogadishu complain of aid being stolen


Ambiyo [not her real name], a mother of three girls, decided to speak out about the chaotic and corrupt dealings of the officials running Daryeel camp for the displaced on the outskirts of Mogadishu after being deprived three times of food for her family.

Like many of the 1,000 displaced families living in the camp, the family has seen food stolen from them or disappearing before they got their share on several occasions by the people supposedly managing the aid.

Ambiyo settled in the camp in August 2016. She described the first time she witnessed a food delivery arriving.

“Three lorries parked outside the camps and offloaded the food into a tent,” she said. “We were so happy to see the food, but the next day our hopes were reduced to despair when we heard all the food was being taken somewhere else.”

The camp residents were not able to find out where the food had gone. Ambiyo said the last time food was stolen by those bringing it in to Daryeel was last month.

Most of the displaced people fear blowing the whistle on corrupt aid workers and camp leaders because they are afraid of retribution, as well as losing what little aid they sometimes get for their children in the camps.

The camp leaders, commonly referred to as gatekeepers, control who and what goes in and out of the camps.

Anab Nuur, another mother of four children in Daryeel, told Radio Ergo food aid had been delivered to the camp three times to her knowledge. The first time was 15 October 2016, when camp officials confiscated the food distributed to them saying they were going to cook for everyone. Nobody ever received any cooked food.

The second time was 4 November 2016, when Anab said a group of armed men entered the camp at night and stole the food that had been delivered to them. It is not known how the armed men knew that the food was there in the camp. The third incident came at the beginning of this year, when food was delivered and half of it was taken by the camp officials.

“I have tried to express my concerns to these camp leaders but they threatened me and my children. Since then I have tried to move away to another camp but I have not been able to find space anywhere,” Anab said.

Mohamud Sheikh, a camp leader, told Radio Ergo the allegations were all false. He said he completely denied any fraud claims.

Sheikh Noor Barud, the head of the Drought Response Committee, said there had been several reports of mismanagement of aid resources by aid workers and camp officials but the committee had not received any evidence to support the allegations.