11/28/2021
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Central Somali pastoralists mired in debt are barred from food stores


Sunday April 25, 2021


File Photo/Ergo

(ERGO) – Farah Mohamud Isse, a pastoralist living in the rural area around central Somalia’s Adado, is saddled with a debt of $1,800 that bars him from buying any more food from the shops.

The owner of his local store told him in January that he has to clear his debt before he can take any more food on credit.

newsinsdeFarah’s debt was accumulated between November 2019 and December 2020, when he kept taking food on credit for the family and his goats because he lacked any cash. They have been hit by crisis after crisis in this part of Galgadud region, with consecutive failed rains and locust invasions.

Forty of Farah’s 170 goats have died since February. The rest of the animals in his herd are in poor condition, as the drought and water scarcity has been biting. He tried three times to sell the nine strongest goats in Adado livestock market, but there were no buyers.

“I took a huge part of the debt after the livestock became so weak that they are not worth anything at the market,” he said.

Pastoralists in Adado usually borrow food from local stores during the dry season, when their livestock have the lowest market value, and pay off their debts once it rains and the animals put on weight and can fetch better prices.

However, last year’s Deyr season rains were poor and the little pasture it produced was devoured by swarms of invading desert locusts.

Farah even travelled into Adado town asking shop owners for credit. None of them agreed, although a few helped him with some free food to get by for a day or two.

During April, his family of nine members have been surviving on food he bought with $50 sent by his brother in Mogadishu. His anxiety is growing as the drought prolongs, and everyone hopes for rain.

“My goats don’t have any market value currently and I don’t know how I will repay the loan,” he told Radio Ergo.

Other pastoralist families denied food on credit have been sharing food with their relatives and neighbours, with a promise of helping them repay the money once they receive the Gu’ rains.

Abdishakur Hussein Warsame and his family of five had been sharing food since January with a relative, until the relative was also denied further credit.

Abdishakur told Radio Ergo he has a debt of $800 at food stores.

“We survived on the little we received from those relatives. But now our debt has grown as we owe them too,” said Abdishakur. He has lost around half of his 80 goats to the drought since January.

Almost all the pastoralists in Adado hope to sell some of their livestock during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan to buy food for their families. However, this year the market is empty.

Mohamed Abdi Omar, a shop owner in Adado, has 200 pastoralist customers who have been buying food on credit since 2019. He told Radio Ergo that he has been forced to turn 150 of them away because of their ballooning debts.

Mohamed noted that his remaining 50 customers were close relatives, to whom he was obliged to continue giving a credit facility.

“Two of my customers have borrowed food worth over a $1,000. The rest have borrowed between $100 and $,1000,” he stated, adding that his business was now in trouble.

The delayed Gu’ rains began in some parts of Galgadud region and other parts of the country around the middle of April, although it is not clear if it will be enough to save the pastoralists now deeply in debt.



 





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