In the past there was plenty of ground water close to the surface, which people could rely on during the dry season when forest streams dried up. Now, they say, some of the water sources have been buried by sand and the water table seems to have dropped significantly.
Gurracha says they lack access to dirty water, let alone clean water; they travel through the night to distant water points and have to queue for a long time when they get there. Women in particular suffer today, he says: “Now they go long distances carrying jerrycans on their backs.” Arima says it takes from dawn to dusk to collect water.
Huqa gives an example of the cultural impact of worsening environmental conditions and water scarcity. The time-honoured practice of washing a corpse before burial had to be abandoned on a recent occasion as there was no water to be found despite a two-day search.
Duba says drought “has a lot of effects on the culture”, pointing out that it is no longer possible to fulfil all their ceremonies, such as slaughtering the right quantity of livestock at the changeover of the gadaa system.
Iyya is clear that lack of water is the reason “development is regressing”, and he also talks about impact of water scarcity on education; the dry conditions mean few teachers are willing to stay for long.