On my second vacation back home in 2014 after years in the Arabian peninsula, “Hargeisa”, my city__ was one of the places I was eagerly anticipating to spend my whole days off the work, but as a typical Somali fellow, there was something that I had been feeling missing since years and years. This is the nomadic lifestyle which I used to enjoy during my childhood school holidays. Chasing the lambs and kids of the sheep and goats respectively and watching their unique running style and strides during the green pastures would shed a sense of joy and happiness into the hearts of everyone who had experienced this natural lifestyle. This was the autumn season with good torrential rainfalls and the city was quite pleasing. Now, I am feeling like I had to go out of the city, and mobilized a group of family and friends to help me with taking my nomadic memories back and of course, to expose ourselves to the endless potential natural knowledge that would neutralize our inherent curiosity of all kinds. Believe me this was my first trip to the country side after 22 long years. A land cruiser to cruise us across large swathes of thick muddy savanna is patiently waiting for us as the rains tentatively showering everywhere. Now, the car engine is on to embark a day long journey to the rural area of the country.
It was a Friday morning, the blue sky is covered with beautiful light clouds and the weather was quite appealing. A cool breeze was blowing right from the Northeast and the shinning sunrays were rising up piercing through the clouds from the eastern golden horizon. The only music we could enjoy with is the ambient sounds of the different beautiful flapping birds over, and the other creatures naturally inhabited in this wonderful and eye-catching piece of world. The perceived scent of the moisture of the earth and the crystal frost on the leaves and flowers of the trees seem like it has rained last night. Your eyes can’t escape to be captivated by the natural beauty of numerous water-banks resting across the width of this scenery. It is a typical atmosphere where Somali artists would visualize a feeling driven imagination and hence compose a piece of wisdom-full literature to empower a vision, so as to accomplish a mission (might be love!).
The land is peaceful and so prosperous. A green pasture gently swinging with the cool blows covers every direction you face. Wow! What the place! The pastoral community is dispersedly living across the savanna known as (Garoodi), giving a wider space for their animals to grass, mate and breed. The glimpse of the other polychromatic wild creatures of different species is passionately fascinating. In a nutshell, it is an amazing terrestrial ecosystem; a world of wonders; a world full of imagination.
After traveling for about 90 KM across a land which the rains turned into a quagmire, we have eventually reached our target village. We were welcomed with fresh camel milk milked in front of us from a flock of camels recently given birth with their newly born calves. Many of us have really enjoyed beyond words can tell and refurbished our almost dormant memories on such a stress-free natural lifestyle.
On October last year, on my similar holidays back home, I had decided to make the same trip to probably the same area. This time, the situation is totally different from that I had seen two years ago. The autumn torrential rains were missing from much of the country and only light intermittent showers were seen in some parts of the major cities and their suburbs. Though, the people were very much optimistic about the rain falls, many other people were quite apprehensive about it owing to their level of experience and wit, that it could be an inclination to a major droughts that could affect the whole nation, and specially the nomadic people whose their livelihood is quite dependent on the availability of rains. Let alone the rural life, but the urban life is heavily dependent on the rural life due to the fact that the livestock is the key economic stimulator of the country at large. Livestock exports generate millions of dollars revenue for the government as well. The narrative, that livestock acts for the Somali people as the crude oil of the oil rich countries is literally true. The over green savanna is totally the opposite at the time, as sky rocketing whirlwinds and dust devils overtaken the eye catching green pasture I have narrated above and the beautiful creatures of many types seemed to have been no more. As livestock transhumance is a long observed traditional practice once droughts or less pasture face the livestock herders, there were lesser rural communities in the area at this time, as most of them have already moved and even crossed into the bordering countries for seeking a better pasture for their animals’ survival.
Today, the droughts’ impact on the entire nomadic people has gone beyond limits. The Carcasses of the dead animals of all type are scattered everywhere beyond numbers and situation has gone far from animals but narrowed into the salvage of the human lives. The pure portable water is alarmingly so scarce in many places of the country. The people and businesses in and around the world are endeavored to be part of this salvation strategy and the National Droughts Commission is pushing hard to make a way for this natural disaster, and I prey to Allah (SWT) to relieve us all from the burdens of these rampant droughts.
Who is to blame?
When it comes to seasonal rains, Somaliland is very fortunate to be part of the countries that Allah (SWT) endowed with beautiful seasonal rains of not less than six months in the year. During the rainy seasons, all the dry rivers that snake through the country turn into real rivers transporting billions of cubic meters of fresh water into the sea. It is a collective mistake and foolish negligence mainly on the part of the government which receives millions of dollars, let alone the domestic tax levies but grants from the international community as well, to develop the basic necessities for her nation. But, once a corrupted and ill-fated systems run by a group(s) of notorious parasites of both parachute-politicians and local tribe-mongers are all around, to expect such help from them is just a hallucination. I have in fact extensively commented on how this system and those before were corrupted in many of my former writings and is not worthy to repeat it again over, but my mission is to highlight how major problems that my people often suffer are not due to unprecedented disaster, but a well-known and familiar calamity the protection of which is collectively ignored.
Many dire and naturally prolonged droughts had chronologically faced by my people at many different times in the history, as far too many naturally prolonged prosperity came to them too. “NATURAL” is a beautiful word but not beautiful in every sense, we are all born naked and natural but doesn’t mean to remain the same forever, as we are blessed with wit and wisdom. We are obliged to develop ourselves and lifestyle by just utilizing our inherent energy and power, and if so; it is up to us to have plans for any potential droughts as usual.
Somaliland government is tirelessly working with her appointed National Droughts Commission and generously flourished millions of dollars to support the drought hit people. It is a positive gesture of national responsibility, but what the government fails is that to set up a strategic plan in confronting a potential drought, by simply digging rigs, building dams and reservoirs for the people during the pasture. It is the government’s obligation to educate; guide and support the people with the best possible know how to preserve their environment against erosions, deforestation, water pollution and other environmental threats. Why millions of dollars are always there waiting until droughts strike? Why not the same millions are for getting in place a viable crisis management strategy including droughts? Why our plans should be weather-tied plans? If ‘prosperity’, we suffer from floods and vice versa. We shouldn’t be reactive rather than being proactive. The government is by the people; it should then be for the people. It is the government’s responsibility to sensibly plan the future of the country, for both the urban and the rural areas.
The droughts of today would neither be the first of its kind nor the last the country and the people would ever experience, but the question is “are we yet there to learn from Droughts”?
By: Khadar Hanan