Facing the challenge of survival in Somalia

A nomadic family in Somalia.
A nomadic herder and his family move to find water in Somalia.

World Concern’s mission of reaching the poorest and most vulnerable people in the world means we work in some of the most challenging places on earth. A report I just received from our Somalia staff brought this reality to light afresh for me. It summarized the results of a survey of families in two areas where we’ve recently started working in Somaliland (northern Somalia). The figures indicate such dramatic need – it’s hard to fathom what these families face every day just to survive.

Here are a few of the most astonishing ones:

  • 92% of the families do not use latrines
  • 54% of people observed had noticeable eye infections
  • 59.6% have never attended any school
  • Only 13% have attended secondary school
  • 54.6% travel 1-2 hours a day to reach a water source with the largest percentage going three times a day
  • 83.3% are drinking water that is not safe for human consumption
  • A main source of income is livestock, yet only 10% of the animals in households are producing milk

It’s impossible to dig wells in some of these areas because the water, even below the surface, is salty. Rainwater and groundwater runoff collected in berkads (underground reservoirs) are the only source of clean water.  One of our projects is building more berkads in these areas.

Planting sack gardens in Somalia.
Teaching people to grow vegetables in sack gardens offers hope.

The soil is so dry and lifeless, nothing can grow here. People eat mostly bread, rice they buy from others. Even vegetable gardens wither. We’re teaching people to grow sack gardens, which hold moisture so things can grow.

Droughts are becoming more frequent and herds are shrinking. Their only hope for healthier herds may be to improve the land with rock lines that will direct rainwater into the soil. One goal is to improve livelihoods so families don’t have to be constantly moving in search of water.

In spite of the inhospitable environment, we know there are solutions: Collecting rainwater, growing food in sack gardens, sustaining herds.  Even in Somalia, we see hope.

Join us in bringing hope to this dry and weary land.

Published by

Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt

Cathy Herholdt is World Concern's Marketing and Communications Director. With a background in journalism, Cathy honed her writing skills as a newspaper editor and now enjoys sharing the inspiring stories of those World Concern serves. She has served with World Concern since 2010.

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