GURIEL, SOMALIA – In the Galgaduud region of Somalia, nearly 300,000 people have been ravaged by a severe drought. The federal government declared a state of emergency a month ago to cope with the situation.
In Galgaduud, a town of about 100,000 people, “there is not enough food or water”, says Deeko Adan Warsame, the chair of the women’s council.
A sudden rainstorm in October brought hope to Guriel’s residents after many months without rain. Reports said that people from other places also came in search of water, pasture, and food – as far as the neighboring country of Ethiopia.
Despite the drought appearing to give Guriel’s residents a brief reprieve, the conflict tightened its grip on the town.
Heavy fighting broke out in October between the Somali National Army and the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a group, killing dozens and forcing people to move once again, this time to towns outside the capital. Approximately 100,000 were forced to flee to nearby villages.
Guriel’s main hospital, Istarlin, was damaged by intense shelling. A fire destroyed Kulmiye Community Hospital, the second-largest in the town. As a result, the hospital’s medical facilities stand empty and roofless today, with charred walls and piles of corrugated metal piled up on the ground.
Mohamed Sheikh Ahmed, who oversees operations in the area for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), says, “I do not have words to describe what I am feeling when I see the rubble of the hospital.”
He adds, “The fighting may be over now, but we will feel its consequences for a long time.”
One of the vital facilities, a local borehole, was heavily damaged by the fighting after its two generators were hit by bullets. The borehole provided water for thousands of people and their livestock. More and more people displaced by the drought are arriving in the region to seek water, putting further pressure on the water supply.
Warsame warns, “You can run away from the fighting, but you can’t escape from the drought”. “We have missed three rounds of rain already.”