SOMALIA – (ERGO) – Huge bushfires that destroyed an important livestock grazing area in central Somalia’s Galgadud region has forced the displacement of hundreds of pastoralist families and their animals.
Families fled from Dhagahdher as the fire spread across an estimated 30 square kilometres of pasture.
Isse Mohamed Barre, 68, told Radio Erg that his herd of 100 animals normally graze in this area at this time of year. They managed to escape when the fire broke out on 18 June.
“Everyone fled the area. No one could possibly remain there, people had to leave to save their lives and animals,” he said.
Isse and his family of nine moved with their livestock to Godinlabe. The incoming families from Dhagahdher and the residents of Godinlabe joined forces to fight the fire and stopped the flames from spreading to all the surrounding vegetation.
A disheartened Isse told Radio Ergo that his animals are now grazing on the little grass that survived the fire.
The pasture had been enriched by abundant rainfall in the last two rainy seasons and had escaped attack by the locusts that have been invading other parts of the region.
“There has been a large displacement of people and animals who are now competing over the scarce pasture,” Isse said, predicting challenging times ahead.
Bisharo Omar Ali, a mother of six, fears another untimely move. They had recently arrived in the Kayn-omane valley after losing 80 goats to drought in Adda-kibir, 36 km north of Kayn.
“We have no plans and no other reserves to go to. I don’t think we will find a better place, but we have to move because there is not enough pasture for the animals,” she said.
The area commissioner, Farhan Maalin Daud, told Radio Ergo that the bushfires burnt the grass in the rural areas of Dhagahdher, Qalloan, Jirriqale, Feeraad, and Kayn-omane valley, as well as parts of Bisiqlay and Godinlabe.
He said the local authorities and Godinlabe youth groups all helped fighting the blaze that took nine hours to control.
However, they are not in a position to help the estimated 900 families displaced from the affected areas.
“A lot of people have been displaced and they need emergency assistance. This tragic fire has destroyed the area they were counting on as a last refuge for their animals during the dry season. We just hope that the next rains will come fast enough,” he said.