(ERGO) – Drought-hit families in a village in Dhobley, in southern Somalia’s Lower Jubaregion, are faced with a stark choice between buying water and sending their children to school.
At least 200 children in Barwaqo village have been sent home following the closure of their school due to lack of funds.
Hassan Salat Bulley, the village chief, told Radio Ergo that the school relied on the contributions of some 500 local families, who were all struggling to survive after the failure of the last rains. The school shut down two months ago.
The families have been forced to choose between either buying water for their livestockand keeping their children’s education going.
“Each family was paying five dollars towards the running of the school that has now been diverted to emergency water purchases,” the chief said.
The water reservoirs in the village have dried up. Some of the families are walking 20km to get water from Dhobley town.
“These families buy a 200–litre drum of clean water at four dollars and drive their animals to get water from the town.
The situation could get worse if there is no quick response,” the chief warned.
Abdi Shukri Adan and his younger brother were pupils at the school. They are now hanging around at home.
“I like education very much and I was hoping to be educated and later on to become an important person in the society,” Abdi told Radio Ergo.
The children were being taught English, Kiswahili, mathematics, and science in the school’s three classrooms built of sticks.
Deq Duble Ali, a parent, said circumstances had regrettably forced him to divert hisschool contribution to buy water to save his livestock from dying.
“I am paying 125,000 Somali shilling ($5) every time I have to buy water for my 30 goats. Two of my children were students at the school, but I have no choice,” Deq said.
Deq now travels 35 km away from the village seeking pasture for his livestock.
He supports his family by collect firewood with a donkey cart to sell in the market.
“I make $15 for a trip collecting and selling the firewood. I use this money to buy food and water for the family,” he said.
Shukri Bihi Nur, a member of the school committee, said the four teachers had left their posts because they had not been paid.
“The salaries for the teachers have not been paid for two months. When the village failed to contribute money for the teachers, they moved to other schools,” she said.
Ibrahim Isack, another parent whose daughter was at the school, expressed concern over the future of the village’s children.
“Parents have the desire but cannot support the school. The families are poor, they would like to contribute but they are all in same state,” he explained.
The school opened two years ago after the local administration and the elders joined hands.