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Raewi Awil Araale runs a shop in the village with her husband and her 18 year old daughter.

“We sell cereals like maize, rice and flour, as well as bottled water, packets of soap, clothes and cigarettes.

“The prices are going up day by day. I buy in bulk – I phone traders in Burao (the regional capital, about two hours drive away) and they bring what I need by truck. To buy 50kgs of rice costs me $35 – a few months ago it was only $28. I have to charge my customers more as a result. Before I sold them 1kg of rice for $1. Now I charge $1.40.

“The diet is changing. People here usually eat a lot of rice. This is not an agricultural area, so we don’t normally eat a lot of maize. Before the drought I rarely even stocked maize – but now it’s my main seller. It’s much cheaper – I can buy 50kgs for $20 – but people are also buying it now because unlike rice it can feed both humans and animals.

“Four months ago I would sell 50kgs of rice in a couple of days. Now it takes a month to sell that much – people just can’t afford it now.

“Sugar is another staple food in Somaliland and one of my main products – it's very hot here and we Somalis use a lot of sugar as a source of energy. We have it in food but also in cups of tea – we drink a lot of tea throughout the day. But the price of sugar has gone up even more than rice. Before I bought 50kgs of sugar for $35 – now the same amount costs me $48. I have to charge my customers $2.50 a kilogramme, instead of $1.60 before.

“I’m selling much less sugar and rice now, and more maize. The other thing that I’m selling more of is bottled water. The demand for water is very high, particularly from people who live outside the village as their usual sources have dried up. I charge $0.83 for a 750ml bottle. It’s very expensive but people have no other options.

“But I get very little money – I have to sell a lot on credit. Most of my customers are rural people who depend on their animals and now they don’t have any money because of the drought. I give them what they need, and then when it rains – if it rains – and their sheep become strong again they will pay me back.”

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Photo taken on 17 March 2012 (© Oxfam East Africa / Flickr)

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 somaliland, drought, hijab, khimar

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