It was a long journey full of rough terrains and sleepless nights while we were assessing the areas that have been hit by droughts in the Bari Region of Puntland, Somalia. Farmers and pastoralists lost most of their assets and suffered from lack of water. Families started moving to urban areas to access emergency aid.
Talking with these families and listening to their stories has made me wonder what we could do to help. The needs were widespread, people were many and the road was rough, but there was hope. Maybe just hope.
We documented everything we heard and saw, shared the stories and started assisting people to fulfill their hopes and wishes. We helped people reconstruct and rehabilitate their farming canals, shallow wells and water reservoirs in order to get water and restore crops. This also provided temporary employment for farmers, pastoralists and people displaced by the drought. Households were able to generate the cash needed to purchase foods to cover their pressing needs.
We also assisted many communities of displaced people who have been affected by increased vulnerabilities of hunger, disease, child labor and gender-based violence, as well as those who lost their daily labor wages due the shortage of opportunities in the market. We facilitated trainings that helped people secure jobs and increase their income. We provided basic services by constructing water points, latrines and child-friendly spaces that protected children from the chaos of the streets.
It’s a year since the initial assessment and I cannot believe the changes we have seen in these communities. People’s lives have changed for good. The little assistance we were able to provide has inspired them and contributed to their well-being. It’s been a long run and they finally made it!
Mercy Corps has allowed the hope, need and spirit for positive change to flourish in this difficult part of Somalia, and communities are incredibly grateful for it.