Ambiyo, her husband Mahat, and their eight young children were forced to flee their home due to a fourth consecutive year of drought which has ravaged Somalia.
The Mahat family left their home in Dor Murah village in Bakool region, approximately 55 kms from Luuq, after their crops failed and the last of their 200 goats died. They say their only option was to leave – or stay and face starvation and death.
After walking for three days, in March 2022 they arrived at a camp for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Boyle, outside Luuq in Gedo Region, southern Somalia.
The family had “nothing but the clothes on our backs”.
“I was five months pregnant with our 9th child and carried one of our little twin girls on my front and the other on my back,” Ambiyo says.
“My husband helped the other younger children and the older ones walked. It was very difficult walking in the heat of the day. It was cold at night. We carried a water container and got water from bore holes along the way. Apart from the goat meat there was no food. Myself and my husband did not eat at all, we survived on water. When we arrived at the IDP camp we very weak and tired.”
“We met people who lost family members on the journey,” Mahat says. “They had to bury them on the roadside. We could see dead animal carcass along the way.”
Millions pushed to brink of starvation
The Mahat family are among hundreds of thousands of Somalis forced to flee their homes in Somalia.
In 2022, the country faced a devastating food crisis following five consecutive below-average rainy seasons. The current drought is the longest and most severe in recent history.
Irish Journalist, Sally Hayden tweets on a visit to Somalia with Trócaire in 2022.
The prolonged drought, high food and water prices and displacement are driving the country to the brink of famine. One in two Somalis is facing food insecurity. Over half of the country’s children are reported to be suffering acute malnutrition.
In 2023, an estimated 8.25 million people, nearly half of Somalia’s population, will need immediate lifesaving assistance.
Families rebuilding their lives with access to healthcare and education
In Somalia, Trócaire runs the entire health services in the Gedo region, including a hospital in Luuq town and an outreach health clinic near the IDP camp in Boyle. Trócaire is currently treating more than 240,000 people each year. In recent months, the number of young children presenting with malnutrition has trebled.
Trócaire also works with local partners and communities to increase their resilience and sustainability as well as supporting women’s empowerment programmes.
Today, the Mahat family are rebuilding their lives at the IDP camp in Boyle. They live in a small shelter approximately 12 feet by 10 feet, built from sticks and twigs covered with scraps of material, plastic and cardboard.