In 2017 a drought gripped Somalia when rains failed for three seasons in a row, leaving more than 6 million people, half the country's population, facing food shortages with several water supplies becoming undrinkable due to the possibility of infection.
This series of photographs were shot for Action Against Hunger Somalia between April and December 2017.
We found Mahad Abdulaziz walking his father's camels from Biyo-Cade to their home several miles away. Biyo-Cade is a secluded village located on the bottom of a dried river valley. Without a car, one has to walk long distances over large, rocky ravines to get to it.
"It is the only source of water for a long time. It's the only place we can take our animals to drink," says Mahad.
The skeletal appearance of the camel shows how the severe drought has affected them. And although all three of his family's camels are still alive, Mahad reported that many of their goats have died.
Halima Jama Samatar is an 80-year-old resident of Eyl, Somalia. She takes care of 12 children (9 of whom their mothers died, and 3 lost their fathers). With no source of income and several mouths to feed, she still finds ways to support her family.
'There has been a drought in all aspects of our life, not just rain or loss of livestock. Its has been a difficult journey. Sometimes I was forced to choose which child to feed and I often go without myself.'
Halima's story, her poise and grace, made me think about what it means to be a mother during the drought. She held her youngest throughout the entire interview, playing with her fingers and making funny faces at her so she can laugh.
'I am grateful because these children give me a reason to fight through this drought. They keep me alive.'
Halima is a beneficiary for Action Against Hunger's unconditional cash transfer program.
Large numbers of people in rural areas were left with no choice but to abandon their homes and trek long distances to towns or cities in search of food and water.
Action Against Hunger with support from SomRep rehabilitated shallow wells and provided taps for easy access to water in Biyo-Cade, Somalia.
"When I was young, I had a happy life. I would play with my friends and sisters. We always had food and water. Yes, I worked and helped my mother but we also played like kids do. That's what I want for my 5 children. Even though there is a drought and times are difficult, I don't want them to struggle or suffer. My daughter helps me but I want her to be a happy child like I was."
Hawo’s son, Ali, became emaciated and severely malnourished. He was not yet six months old.
“I didn’t know where to go or what to do. I felt like I failed as a mother. But another mother told me to go to the stabilization center because she had a child who sick for the same reason and got treatment. So I ran here as fast as I could,” says Hawo.
Men unload a shipment of Plumpy'nut, a ready-to-use, high-energy peanut paste that is one of the most effective weapons in the fight against malnutrition.
Action Against Hunger runs an emergency nutrition stabilization center in Hodan, Mogadishu, which provides urgent treatment for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
A woman inspects her rehabilitated tap which she uses to irrigate a small farm outside her home.
Abdinuur was one of the few people in El Barde who still had camels left to sell in the market in June, 2017, when the drought had already worsened in the region.
"I'm selling my smaller ones for $120 and this big one for $500. He is 10 years old and a good camel. I have been here for days without selling a camel. People don't have any money since their livestock have died and I can't reduce the price any further. They are my life."
Bakool was one of the hardest hit regions by the drought. El Barde district had seen almost no rainfall since the season started. The land was parched and there was only one borehole and few rehabilitated wells to sustain the entire town. Meanwhile, an IDP camp formed on the outskirts of town, with people coming from surrounding villages in search of food and water.
"Look around. Have you seen any farms? There's no water and nothing to eat. I had camels but they all died. I don't have money to buy others and even if I did, they will likely die as well. I still come to the camel market because I love these animals and this is where my friends are. This is the worst drought I have seen. But God is great and He will bring us rain."
Women gather outside a distribution center in El Barde, Bakool, Somalia.
An Action Against Hunger staff member looks over a list of beneficiaries of unconditional cash transfers. Households receiving the cash transfer were found to have an increase in total household expenditure, an improvement in dietary diversity, and in increase in food consumption score.
A woman receives an unconditional cash transfer.