Makay Ibrahim Isaq, a widow, walked for eight days with her six children to the neighbouring region of Gedo after they ran out of food in southwestern Somalia’s Bakool, where waves of desert locusts have had a devastating impact on small farmers.
The family travelled more than 100 kilometres to reach Jazira camp for internally displaced people (IDPs) near the town of Luq, in early February. On the long and exhausting trek, they survived on less than three kilograms of sorghum that they had been given by a well-wisher.
Makay told Radio Ergo’s local reporter that she had decided to leave their village of God-Gamas in Wajid district when all the food they had saved from their last harvest finished. Locusts ruined crops last year and she could not plant again because the swarms were still present. In 2019, her 28 goats had died in the drought and she had no reserves or resources left to feed her children.
The family is currently sheltering under a tree in Jazira IDP camp, where she feeds her children with whatever she can beg from the longer-term residents of the camp.
“In a day, if I get half a kilogram of flour from my sisters in the camp, I feed my children. If we don’t get anything, we sleep with an empty stomach,” Makay said.
At least 315 families fleeing from hunger in Bakool region have arrived in Luq since the start of February, after losing their harvests to locust invasions. They have put up temporary shelters or settled in the open in Jazira and Busley IDP camps.
Iidey Adan Hussein, also with eight children, reached Busley camp less than a week ago. Her family lived on their one-and-a-half-hectare sorghum farm in Malmade village in Rabdhure district. The sorghum was all destroyed by locusts last year.
After trying to collect and sell firewood to buy food for the children, she decided to leave. The dollar or so she might make in a day was not enough even to pay for a meal, as food prices in the Al-Shabaab-besieged region have recently doubled.
Iidey, who is sheltering in a hut made of sticks and cardboard, has been collecting grass to sell trying to earn enough to buy her family one meal a day in the IDP camp.
Ahmed Hassan Garar, head of Luq administration, said the authorities are unable to assist the displaced families, although they have informed humanitarian aid agencies of the dire needs of the new arrivals, who are mainly women and children.
The two camps where these families settled were already occupied by 4,800 other families, displaced from Gedo and Bakool regions. The camps have not received any food aid for the past few years. The IDP women depend on casual jobs such as laundry work, or selling grass they collect from the bush. Men and some of the women also find seasonal work as labourers on farms near the river.