The Leveller

Ben Ehrenreich on famine in East Africa

In Haro Sheikh the journalists kneeled to photograph a tortoise. It was nearly a metre long, with short, spikily scaled legs tucked beneath its shell. A black liquid stained the dry red earth around it. Beside it was the carcass of a donkey, white bone showing beneath what little flesh remained. A few metres away a warthog lay rotting, and beyond that a camel. For miles outside the village – and outside every village I passed through in Somaliland, the self-proclaimed but unrecognised state that comprises the northern part of Somalia – thousands of sheep and goats lay strewn in varying states of decay. The contents of their stomachs, it was easy to see, were mainly colourful shreds of plastic ingested in the absence of natural pasture. I asked a group of men in Haro Sheikh if more camels, the most valuable livestock in the local pastoral economy, had died. They all began pointing at once. ‘Behind that tree,’ one said. ‘And another there.’ ‘And there.’

The full text of this essay is only available to subscribers of the London Review of Books.

You are not logged in

[*] Naomi Klein wrote about the conflict shoreline in the LRB of 2 June 2016.