The severe drought in Somaliland and the broader Horn of Africa region will have significant long-term consequences for women and girls. From walking miles to fetch water and shouldering an increasing burden of caregiving in their communities, women are leading the response to the drought. But these women need your urgent support to secure their futures. Please make a donation today.
Can you imagine what it must be like for women and girls in Somaliland? Gripped in an unending drought, left behind with little support and at the mercy of the harsh weather conditions. And trying to stay safe from the increased risk of rape and violence.
Uba is 14 and raising her three siblings all by herself. Last year, she was separated from her parents when they left her in search of food and pasture for their goats – the family’s only source of income.
I'm 14 years old and I'm now the acting mother and father to my three younger brothers and sisters aged 10, eight and two.
“Our parents left five months ago with the animals to find water and food for them so they could stay alive.”
Uba and her three younger siblings are living in a displacement camp 40km from the Ethiopian border in Somaliland. It’s an extremely dry, dusty and remote part of the country and is now virtually lifeless.
“I miss my mother a lot. I think about her every day. They said they will be back when it has rained. I feel very tired and exhausted. I have headaches.”
Uba is still waiting for rain as are around 500 other families living in the area. With every rainless day that passes, the strain increases on these families and particularly on women and girls, to whom the bulk of responsibilities fall for caring for the elderly, the sick and children.
Many girls, like Uba, are forced to drop out of school and sacrifice an education.
“I cook for my family. I cook every day, I make rice and sometimes maize. This is the only thing I cook because we do not have food. We only have food when we get rations [from emergency relief distributions]. I make the rice watery so that it can be shared with the children.”
It's not easy to be like a mother to the children. But I do my best. I do feel lonely and scared especially at night time.
Women and girls in Somaliland, like Uba, are also facing an increased risk of gendered violence as the drought puts a strain on their communities.
ActionAid is supporting women to lead the response to the drought – sitting on emergency response committees, leading distributions of relief items – to ensure that the specific needs of women and girls are met. We will also support local women to set up safe spaces, where they can come together to meet, identify and address local issues, pursue sustainable alternative livelihoods and take action to claim their rights in their communities.