“Black tea was all I could give to my children”

“Black tea was all I could give to my children”

Publication info

Edward Ahonobadha and Abdi Nour

Hodu is a mother of three small children and lives in Oodweyne village in Burao in Somaliland. Her family lost each of their 20 goats and sheep during the drought — a critical loss. “We struggled to put food on the table. There were many days when we had nothing to eat and we went to bed hungry,” Hodu says.

Somaliland has faced many crises in recent times including drought and an outbreak of cholera. Thousands of subsistence farmers have lost all their livestock, and with it, their livelihoods and their food source. And of course, they too are without water due to the drought. In total, more than 18 million people across the region are facing food insecurity.

Hodu and her family depended on the animals to have food to eat. They went for days without food. On many days, she gave her children black tea. That was their only meal in the evening. Sometimes their neighbors shared maize with them, so they could at least eat a little bit of food.  “We had to find an alternative source of income,  so my husband started burning and selling charcoal at the market. Most people do not have the money to buy it, though, so he operates mainly by loaning out the charcoal.”

Hodu and her family are now receiving assistance from CARE. “We are now a bit optimistic on the future but things are still tough. My children took a bit of time to acclimatize with the new foods and diet but they are now fine. They were used to milk and meat products but they are now ok. In the recent past, all that we thought about all day was where the next meal would come from. Clothes, school, health, and housing were secondary needs to us. Thanks to CARE, the days of going to bed hungry are over,” Hodu says. “We are happy that we do not sleep hungry anymore.”

CARE is delivering emergency aid in the Burao region in the form of water deliveries and nutrition support, healthcare advice, cash-for-work programs for vulnerable women, improving shallow wells and boreholes, and provision of psychosocial support to adult and child survivors of gender-based violence.


Hodu and her family are among 20 million people in four countries facing starvation and famine – the largest humanitarian crisis since the end of the second world war. Credit: CARE/Edward Ahonobadha