Why Canadians should care about the drought in Somalia: Hodan Nalayeh

Broadcaster journeyed back to her native Somalia to report on the crisis

The air looked dry. The trees were bare. There was not a spot of grass in sight. Yet, the Facebook video was filled with young Somali children smiling in the background. The images were from Canadian journalist Hodan Nalayeh’s live broadcasts during her fact-finding trip to cover the drought crisis in the Horn of Africa, and specifically, in the country of her birth.

Six million people in Somalia are in a drought crisis. The United Nations has named the drought the largest humanitarian crisis since the organization was founded. Yemen, South Sudan, and northeast Nigeria are among the countries impacted, with 20 million people needing assistance.

Toronto T.V. host Hodan Nalayeh took a 10-day trip to Somalia in late March to cover the crisis. During the trip, she shared her experience through her Facebook live videos, and on her other social media channels.

“Twenty million people. 20 million! Do you understand what 20 million people (is)?” Nalayeh said, during an interview with Centennial College journalism students just a few days after her return home in April. “It’s like half the population of Canada could possibly die and be affected by this.”

Nalayeh is the founder of Integration TV on OMNI TV. Her show focuses on bringing awareness to the issues surrounding Somali diaspora communities all over the world.

“It’s important that there’s more media attention to it. It’s climate change, Things that we don’t discus,” she said. “If consistent rainfall hasn’t happened in two years and you have six million people that are going to be affected by it, that should be something news[worthy].”

Many children are either sick or have died from cholera, a bacterial disease often caused by drinking contaminated water. Most of the animals such as sheep, goats and camels are dead, leaving the Somali people with no livestock and ultimately no way to survive.

The United Nations announced that it is going to need $4.4 billion dollars by July. Canada has since donated $119 million dollars through the United Nations for four countries including Somalia.

“We’re so removed from the suffering of other human beings,” Nalayeh said, but is frustrated because the story isn’t widely known in this country.

“It’s astounding that there isn’t any more coverage,” she said. “Are lives that are of this [skin] colour less important then other lives?”