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Families in Elbarde, Bakool region, miss meals as shilling loses value and food becomes short

Families in Elbarde, Bakool region, miss meals as shilling loses value and food becomes short

A combination of food shortages and the collapse of the Somali shilling are making life extremely hard for the most vulnerable families living in Elbarde, southern Somalia’s Bakool region.

Halimo Hassan Mohamud and her six children are internally displaced in Halul, after losing their entire herd of 57 goats and 12 cows in the drought.

Halimo told Radio Ergo her causal work washing clothes earns her three days a week earns her 50,000 Somali shillings ($2). The money used to cover two meals a day for the family but now does not cover one meal.

“Whenever I am paid in Somali shillings I keeps worthless notes in the house,” she said. She has asked her employers to send her money to her mobile phone.

According to local businessmen, the sudden drastic changes have been caused by the decline in value of the local currency over some time. Traders only want to sell in the stable US dollar now, so local people cannot spend their shillings.

Shuayb Hassan Mohamed, a businessman, said prices have also rocketed partly due to the recent adverse weather conditions. Vehicles bringing in food supplies to the area have not been able to navigate the flooded roads.  From the usual three to four vehicles bringing in food each day, there is now a single truck arriving in a week. The supply of food has shrunk.

A kilo of sugar, flour or pasta used to cost 16,000 shillings ($0.78) and has increased to 40,000 shillings ($1.94), while a litre of cooking oil has risen from 28,000 shillings to 50,000 shillings ($2.40).

The IDP families and the low income people are struggling to survive.

Mahad Salad Abdullahi, a father of seven in El-Barde, used to sell firewood he collected on his donkey cart from the rural outskirts of town.  Due to the floods, he can no longer go out to fetch firewood.

He told Radio Ergo his family cannot migrate away from the area as the roads are cut off. They are struggling to enjoy one meal a day, although he occasionally gets five or 10 dollars sent to his phone by relatives.

“When I go home my children run to me, they want something to eat. I have asked the business owners to give me food on credit but they have refused. We don’t cook a meal every day,” Mahad said.

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