A few miles away, those living in the village of Carracad tell the same story. The wide river bed is like a beach. Normally, the river flows during the wet season. Now, towards the end of this season, a small puddle that goats gather around is the only clue that a river was here. This local well is the main source of water for the 2,100 people in the local village and their livestock.
This drought is the latest in a series of crushing blows felt by the community. As a result of the drought in 2017, 80% of the local livestock (including cattle, donkeys, goats and camels) died and have not been replaced.
Cyclone Sagar also roared through the village in 2018, causing immeasurable damage to land and houses.
In Borama, the nearest town, a Save the Children nutrition clinic is working with people who have been forced to move to temporary camps in the town. The clinic treated 329 moderately or severely malnourished children during the first five months of this year. Diarrhoea is the main driver of malnutrition, due to poor hygiene in the camps and inadequate supplies of clean water.
While lengthy dry seasons and lacklustre rains are becoming common in the region, there is much that can be done to mitigate against the impact of extreme weather events.
The response of the international community to the drought of 2017 is viewed as a good example of the impact that humanitarian aid can have in preventing drought becoming a famine. Early intervention from donors enables aid agencies to respond in a coordinated way for a truly effective response.
We are working with communities to build their capacity to deal with climate change. For example, near the village of Shirwac, we developed an underground water tank that can hold up to 310,000 litres of rain water for when the flash floods come.
Our agricultural experts are working with local farmers to diversify the crops they grow and introduce quicker maturing and drought-resistant plants. This involves training farmers to use ‘climate-smart’ conservation agriculture techniques to maximise the rain that does fall, irrigate the land and protect the soil.
In some cases, families can be left with no choice but to move to urban areas as a result. To respond to this, we are targeting women and teenagers to train and assist them in establishing businesses that will provide them with an income.
The skills being shared with these farming communities, women and teenagers will be vital in the difficult months and years to come.