Last week, a long time awaited rain had showered onto the dried lands of Jigjiga. The late rainfall had fed people, animals and the land and expectedly came at a time when people of Somali state and beyond were experiencing one of the worst drought seasons of the year. I’ve never seen my city as thirsty for water as I witnessed in a spare of two days after my arrival from Abaarso, a popular American school in the desert of the Abaarso village. When I first arrived in the border town of wajaale, I’d already glimpsed the real picture of the drought across my surroundings by looking out of the car window I was riding. From Abaarso to Wajjale, every look I paid to the dry land was a reminder that the winter drought had deserted all living creatures
People in my state and mostly in Somalia are highly reliant on seasonal rains but delayed rains often affect agriculture and farming production. In our Somali state, roughly 85% of our state’s population is agro-pastoralists which means they have to move back and forth from place to place in search of water and posture for themselves and animals.
This year, we have faced one of the worst water shortages in the year. Jigjiga doesn’t have underground water pipe system. Most water sources are underground dams but the water taps don’t often flush in every house. Some had broken and never been repaired. Some water taps never run. In the past, the only source of water came from an artificial dam dug during the Italian colony ( according to history) and – – Even though the dam water isn’t safe to drink, it is the only place where the city’s water was trucked to by water trucks. It was the first time the dam dried out. It’s partially associated with the fact that the dam has been a punishment center for the old prisoners. The former Abdi iley dictator’s loyalties used the dam to sink political prisoners and for that reason many people believe that the dam’s dryness is supposedly a god’s punishment.
Last week, a long awaited rain poured across most parts of Somali state including Jigjiga, the largest Somali state city of Ethiopia. The city was immensely thirsty and cried for water for a long time. I was absolutely thinking about what life looked like in the countryside when our state’s largest city suffered from severe water shortages. A jerry can of water cost nearly half a dollar, a price most ordinary people found themselves unable to pay off. The more people waited for sky water, the less the sky clouded. It’s worth remembering that the whole people in our state came out to the streets not for a protest but to line up for prayers to god for rain water. Few days after their nation-wide call for prayer, the clouds formed and scattered across the sky and it did finally rain so much all over the city and beyond. The rain cooled off the people, nurtured the land and fed animals. It’s hard to think about people’s life at times when the expected rains don’t arrive on time leaving pastoralists and ordinary people in the cities more resilient to drought and famine.
This blog is a series of my occasional writing pieces about our Somali state of Ethiopia. I usually write about issues that I think matter at the time of emergencies, difficulties and most interestingly stories that spread hope and inspire people. It’s a beautiful bright morning here with clear sky in Jigjiga today, till I shoot you to another post sometime soon, I will leave you with Allah’s care and protection.