Welcome to Africanews

Please select your experience

Watch Live



Drought in Horn of Africa threatens nomadic herders

People stand next to a water well at the village of El Gel, 8 kilometres from the town of K'elafo, Ethiopia, on January 12, 2023.   -  
Copyright © africanews


The drought in the Horn of Africa is forcing many nomadic herders to seek a new life elsewhere.

Increasing numbers are now leading a sedentary existence relying on humanitarian aid in cities or camps for internal displaced people known as IDPs.

"In my life before, I was very happy, I had my children, animals that provided milk and meat. We moved freely from one place to another, and now all our wealth (livestock, Ed.) is gone, we are gathered here with my children", laments Alaso Abdi, a female IDP. 

"Now people's lives are in danger. The majority of people have left the village because of starvation and those that remain here have nothing", admits shepherd Mahad Astur Kahin.

The last five rainy seasons since the end of 2020 have failed, triggering the worst drought in four decades in Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya.

Many are now considering a complete lifestyle change. 

"I have decided to move from a life of shepherd to a new way of life. I want to start a business even if it is a small business, just to take care of my family", admits El Gel village leader Mohammed Hassan Gureh.

Others however are reluctant about embarking on a new life. 

This is the case of shepherd Bele Kalbi Nur.

"I don't know how to do anything other than being a nomadic shepherd. I am not educated and I do not know how to farm, this is the only way I know to survive", he said.

According to the UN, drought has plunged 12 million people into "acute food insecurity" in Ethiopia alone, where a deadly conflict has also ravaged the north of the country.

In a report published in January the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA said that since 2021 more than 4.5 million livestock have died and 30 million are now at risk.

View more