In Abuure village, Hiran, Zakariye Jinow (35) wakes up every day ‘ready to fight’. ‘I have a knife and a sword.
The herders can’t just direct their cows to eat my crops. My place is beautiful,’ he says gazing at his five small children. ‘I work hard to grow my maize, millet, wheat and peas.
When the cattle destroy all the green saplings – they are in the wrong, not I.
My land doesn’t move. They are the invaders.’ But herders in dry Somalia suffer too. Muse Mumin (29), who lives in Hiran’s Buuloburde district with his wife and three children, had eight heads of cattle die recently. ‘There was no rain for a long time so they went to graze in the agricultural areas. What else could we do?’ Mumin’s hand was severely damaged in a fight with a farmer in 2013. ‘My cattle was grazing on someone’s field and four farmers came and attacked me. They wanted to cut my head – luckily my hand was protecting it.’ Three of his friends were killed in such clashes. ‘I also saw two farmers killed. It turned that farming community into vigilantes.
They have been attacking herders ever since.’
As droughts worsen, the fights intensify. Clashes between Habargidir farmers and Biyamal herders have drawn in the Somali army and Al Shabaab with their modern weapons.
Mumin says: ‘This conflict is just part of the civil war in our country.’
In Somalia, 24 out or 30 people interviewed in rural Hiran said they knew of someone who died in a farmer-herder conflict.
Jinow agrees the cattle also need food. ‘I don’t know how to solve this problem. Even our elders don’t know.’ If there is no solution, he will ‘simply die’. ‘I am waiting for that.’