Dozens of families have been fleeing their homes in drought-hit villages in southern Somalia’s Gedo region, as telecommunications network outages have left them unable to buy food and water.
Residents in Duya’a-garon, Geriley, Awsquran, Darasalam, Damaso, Fafahdun, and Khadijo-haji in Elwak district have been facing intermittent network outages, following the destruction of telecommunication masts allegedly by the Kenyan Defence Forces.
Most residents in Elwakrely on the EVC ‘phone wallet’ provided by Hormud Telecom company for their daily financial transactions, including buying food, water, and other essentials.
Safiyo Aden, 48, arrived with her family in Busar in Bardere district after EVC services were disrupted in their village of Awsqurun village in Elwak district.
“The place we came from had no network and we couldn’t buy anything with what we have in our phones. Though life is hard, this place is better than where we were because at least we can use the money we have on our phones,” she said.
Drought has already reduced Safiyo’s family herd of 75 goats and seven cows to just 25 animals.
Mohamed Hussein, a trader in Elwak town, told Radio Ergo that business had been brought to a virtual standstill by the lack of network in the area.
He trades in foodstuffs imported from Beled-hawo andBarderein Gedo, and from Elwakon the Kenyan side of the border.
“The border [with Kenya] is closed, the EVC Plus system is not working and people have no money. There is no other way of buying something, so doing business here is difficult,” he said.
According to Mohamed, food prices have skyrocketed, with 50 kg of rice now selling at $45up from $17. Most locals cannot afford to buy food at such prices, especially as they have been so badly affected by the drought.
“The other day as I was traveling, I saw a goat trying to cross the road, when it suddenly collapsed and died,” Mohamed recalled, explaining how the purchasing power of local livestock herders were particularly hard hit.
SahalMoalim Aden, Elwak’s assistant district commissioner, told Radio Ergo that the residents of the district were mostly pastoralists. He said the food and water shortages were serious.
“The challenges can’t be counted. The water sources have dried up, communication is cut off, nothing comes by the roads linking Kenya to Somalia, and people have no money to buy food,” he summarised.
He said the federal government and aid agencies needed to intervene with assistance.