Nalo Musdhaf remains hopeful in the face of severe drought

29 Mar 2017

Nalo Musdhaf remains hopeful in the face of severe drought

Nalo Nuura Musdhaf, 26, could not bear the pain of losing one of her children to hunger and had to flee her home in Maayla-Murug, in Lower Shabelle region, before another one died.

Ms. Musdhaf is one of the recent arrivals in the Al-Adala camp located at Mogadishu’s kilometer 13. Forced to leave her home to seek food and shelter elsewhere, she arrived at the camp on 25 March, with her three daughters and son. Her eldest child just turned eight, while the youngest is only three years old.

Before leaving Maayla-Murug, Ms. Musdhaf lost not only her daughter but also her grandfather and uncle who both succumbed to hunger.

“Since the drought began, I lost my daughter, my uncle and my grandfather. I fled with my family following their painful deaths. There was hunger and thirst. There was no water to drink or even for washing. That is why we fled,” she explains.

She buried her daughter on March 21, four days before arriving at the camp. However, her 30-year-old husband, Siidow Ibrahim, decided to stay behind to take care of the homestead and also recover from ill health.

Ms. Musdhaf and her children are among the 295 families who arrived recently, joining the 1,114 families already living in the camp. The cramped makeshift shelters made from wooden splinters and polypropylene bags continue to fill the empty spaces as the numbers of internally displaced persons continue to increase.

The camp currently survives on donations from local residents and businesses and is in dire need of additional humanitarian aid. Despite the challenges, Musdhaf is grateful for whatever she is receiving from well-wishers, describing the assistance as life-saving.

“We were provided with cooked meals when we arrived. We will eat whatever God provides us with. So long as we are receiving some assistance from Good Samaritans we will stay,” observes Nalo.

The drought has impoverished Nalo and her husband by destroying their livestock, reducing them to beggars incapable of feeding their son and daughters.

“We kept animals but we lost them to this current drought. We had a total of five goats and 10 heads of cattle.  They all died for lack of pasture and water. The animals were our livelihood but they are all gone, so we fled from hunger and thirst,” she explains.

The young family had to trek for two days, before a motorist offered them a free ride in his vehicle on the third day.

“We trekked for a few days. Initially, we started on foot and walked for two days. However, we got a lift from a Good Samaritan who dropped us at this camp on the third day. We did not have money for transport,” she says.

It is not the first time Nalo has fled her home because of biting drought. In 2011, she abandoned her home and only went back after the situation improved. However, she considers the current drought the worst, saying that although the conditions were harsh in 2011, some of her livestock survived --unlike this year.

“It was not like this; in 2011 we had some water flowing in the river. But in the current drought, there is no water, no food and there is absolutely nothing to eat,” she reminisces.

The widespread water and pasture shortages have forced people to migrate in search of food and water for domestic and livestock use. Between November 2016 and the end of February 2017, around 257,000 people were internally displaced due to the drought, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Most of the newly displaced are moving into urban areas and joining existing settlements or establishing new settlements, while others are crossing into neighboring countries.