From the drought to the rainy season

Now it is finally here again – the rainy season! Alhamdulillah- thank God, one can only say – it was sorely needed!

In this article, I will tell you about the drought, what effect it had on my life in Somalia, how the rainy season is and what’s going on when it rains!
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What does rainy season mean in Somalia?

In addition to the 2 dry seasons, there are ’normally‘ also 2 rainy seasons in Somalia:
1. From October – December,
2. From April – June.
The term rainy season does not mean that it pours continuously, but that from time to time rain is expected.
The term rainy season is also somewhat misleading in Somalia, because even in these months falls only low rainfall. Rainy season in Somalia is the period of occasional rainfall and NOT persistent rainfall typical of other tropical regions.
Depending on the monsoon winds there is sometimes more, sometimes less rain. Also the precipitation varies from region to region: while the precipitation in the north is only 50mm, it rains in the tropical south, after all, 400 mm – provided that there is no drought and everything is „on schedule“.

What if the rain stops?

The last few years it rained relatively sparse, or the rain was missed completely. That ended last year in the total drought, which lasted until recently.
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Somali sheep looking for food. Their „double decker- butt“ is barely visible.

Drought 2017

This long-lasting drought brought the land and its people to their limits of existence. Many did not survive this time. Most of them because they lived as nomads far away from civilization. While fleeing to the cities, many had to leave their livestock and even family members behind. There are horrible stories about it that really tear your heart …
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The world should have been woken up this time before it will come to the same catastrophe as 2010/11: at that time, at least 260,000 people died as a result of the drought, millions of people fled to the surrounding cities. Therefore, the German Newspaper Tagesspiegel reported:
Developments in recent months show that the famine could be even more devastating than it was six years ago. Six million people are at risk of famine. One million people are already fleeing the drought. By the end of the year it will be two million. And in the coming months, when the rain stops, a complete crop will fail. The livestock will become extinct.
That’s how it happened. It rained in some parts of the country, but only 2-3 times, which is no more than a drop in the desert.

That’s why you can see at the corner of every small or bigger city camps with thousands of drougth- refugees.

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How do the Somali’s deal with the drought?

The Somali’s are very faithful people and so they see these times of drought as a kind of trial of God.
It is a kind of examination, because He wants to cleanse people of their sins, to bring them to a higher level:
Abu Hurayrah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, „The Muslim will never endure exertion, sickness, tribulation, sorrow, evil, or harm, even if only a thorn stings him, without Allah making it atonement imputed for his sins. „(See Hadith no. 540)
[Sahih al-Bukhari, chapter 68 / Hadithnr. 5641]
Even the people closest to Allah / God like Jesus and all other messengers (may peace and blessings be with them) have been severely tested. Hence the saying that Allah tests those whom He most loves, the most!
But it is worthwhile- Allah promises those who patiently endure without moaning also a great reward:
And we will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.
 [Sûrah al-Baqarah (2): 155]
Moreover, such a drought can be seen as a cleansing of sins, as well as a test for those whom Allah loves so much, as they follow His message, and want to raise them to higher ranks.
That’s why you hear from most Somali people when asked, „How are you?“ despite everything : „Alhamdulillah alla kulli haal!“ [Praise be to Allah in all circumstances] as an answer.
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In addition, in case of drought, the Somalis follow the example of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him): When the rain comes, shops and schools are closed on a particular day and the whole city meets on a big place to pray the rain prayer. This is a short, special prayer that includes a subsequent admonition. From politicians to the poorest – everyone is there, without any distinction.

How did I live in the drought, as a Westener?

Often I was asked if the drought had affected my life. Thankfully, it did not affected me and my family to the extent that it has hit people in the countryside. No, we got to feel it here rather indirectly:
  • During the day, the tap water was gone very often when you most needed. It came only in the evening or at night at the latest, in which we could then fill vats with water. Actually, I was amazed that groundwater could still be found at all, which was directed to the houses in the city. But in the daytime we had to bring extra water from our wells to our toilets, showers, laundry and dish washing as soon as our supply of the night was empty. Not an easy task – especially in the hot season – but still a luxury, if you think more carefully!

 

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Our well

  • If it came up very extreme, we could not get a supply of well water. Then we had to wait a few days until it was brought in the middle of the night. Since the well water was taken from (groundwater) reservoirs from the surrounding areas, people had to wait for it, because during the day it was given to the needy animals. But in such a country you do not give up so easily – there is a solution for everything (most of the time)! Often we then brought water in these yellow containers from my sister-in-law’s well by car.
  • After all, we had continuous drinking water, which was filled with a tank truck in large 100-liter containers. Of these we had 2, but after one of them broke down and the tanker had to come every few days, they had brought us a huge container!

 

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  • At times there was hardly any choice of vegetables on the market, let alone fruits. Then you have to be content with the main food. Which kind of vegetables were available varied from day to day: today there were carrots, tomorrow lemons; then no carrots, but white cabbage, etc. Also, the meat prices had risen extremely (no wonder, since the animals died away).
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On that day we could get only one carrot. But you have to make the best out of it 😉

  • Once, unfortunately, I experienced also a cholera case in our home: a new housemaid, who was still fit in the morning, suddenly started vomiting in the noon. She said that came from cleaning the toilet and just kept working. Until she folded up on the floor at midday. We thought it was just an upset stomach, gave her lemon water, and wanted to take her to the hospital in the afternoon. Thankfully, her mother came and they went alone without our knowledge to the hospital. That’s what saved her life, AlhamduliLlah. In the afternoon, my co-sister found her half-dead in the hospital, put on tens of needles. After all, we were able to make up for our mistake by paying her the medication. Cholera occurs very easily as soon as sufficient hygiene due to lack of water is not guaranteed. Then you have to act very fast, otherwise the death will be faster in front of the door than you can imagine…

 

Everything is relative!

In comparison, we still had it very, very good, Alhamdulillah! And yet, by temporarily losing otherwise naturally things, one learns to appreciate everything that is taken for granted!

What if it rains?

If it rains then, as in the last few weeks, life suddenly turns upside down: rain means at the same time school-free, free of any trips, after-school coachings, etc.!
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In general, therefore, I have often wondered if Somali’s are maybe made of sugar, because as soon as it looks like it’s going to rain, it becomes excuse nr.1 for any activity! Good thing we do not live in rainy Germany 😉 (Of course, Somali’s in Germany get used to the rainy weather in Germany, I guess!)

What is „snow-free“ in Germany is called „rain-free“ in Somalia

It is perhaps comparable to „snow free“ in Germany, when it (in exceptional cases) at times snows so much that you can not get ahead by bus and car. In my childhood this was still a normal case every winter. At that time I could even ski on our neighboring meadow!
But yes, times are changing, even in Somalia! Nowadays there „snow free“ is very rare in Germany, as well as the rain became less in Somalia.

Rainy season is fun- time!

So when it rains, it is as if whole pails are getting spilled over you – it’s pouring so much! Accordingly, everything is under water outside. For the kids, it is pure fun – a bath in the open air! They pound and splash what they can, drumming and dancing!
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The kids are enjoying the bath in the rain

In addition, the children come up with the craziest ideas when suddenly they can not play outside anymore: just climbing the walls!
(Good thing it does not rain too often here ;-))
For the housewives, it is rather less funny (although of course they are happy for the environment). After all, to take care of the wet clothes and floors, which, in no time at all, can cause a risk of slipping, is of course associated with work. In addition, for safety reasons, the elictricity often went off, so that everything has to be done under a romantic flashlight. But well, that does not happen too many times.

This peace afterwords …!

When the spectacle is over, there is nothing better for me than smelling this fresh scent of earth, flowers and cooled air, which reminds me a lot of my German homeland 🙂
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Current situation

Currently it has been raining already several times in Garowe, so that I can not count it on one hand anymore. The other parts of Somalia have probably come into the benefit as well – in some there were even real floods.
Before the rain, it is always unbearably humid, until then the great relief comes. It is also the time of insects (not harmful ones), flies and mosquitos. To keep everything hygienic we clean the whole house with Dieselwater.
To summarize, we’re doing quite well this year and hopefully, that’s not the end, it’s just the beginning of a new time period without drougth!
But: Nature, agriculture and livestock have not yet fully recovered. This will only change, when the rain-loving camels give birth to their children. Then again the camel’s milk and the other things will flow, in shaa Allah. However, the thousands who have lost their homes and their possessions need still our support.
So pray and donate all for Somalia and all the countries that suffer (still) from drought and their consequences!
Best regards,
Your Khalisa
PS: If you want to support one of the many relief organizations, I can recommend the aid organization Islamic Care. We know them personally and they are very dedicated too maa shaa Allah!
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