Olly Burn

Extreme drought in Somaliland

London based fashion photographer and director Olly Burn travelled to Somaliland.

He documented the impact of the severe drought on the country’s nomadic population, where many have lost up to 70% of their herds. Olly said:

‘I was apprehensive ahead of the trip to Somaliland. Not only because it was a completely new experience for me, but I was also concerned about capturing images of hope and strength when the drought had been so severe and causing so much suffering. But my concerns faded when we reached the remote villages. The villagers were so welcoming. It was a truly unique and beautiful experience spending time with these nomadic tribes who culturally are so far from the way of life we’re used to. It was the incredible character, warmth and resilience of the people we met that made the essence of ‘Hope and Strength’ almost impossible not to capture.’

Interview with Olly BUrn


Muna Yusuf Adan is a farmer in Somaliland. She lives with her husband, five children, and disabled brother-in-law.

Their home is surrounded by arid land, it is extremely windy, and there are dead animal carcasses only metres away. Most of her animals died in the drought.

The family used to have 150 livestock including goats, sheep and camels. Now she has only 20 goats and two camels.

‘This was the worst drought I have ever seen. The animals didn’t have any food, we couldn’t get them any, and they started dying. Our children and our lives depend on the livestock,’ said Muna.

When she was given the ShelterBox, Muna said, ‘I opened it and I saw the utensils, the tarpaulin, and all the materials. I felt very happy as it was all very useful.’

Muna told us that in the future she hopes her children can go to school so they can get a good job.

A lady with a small child on her hip in front of her home


A lady wearing green sitting beside a grain bag

60-year-old Fosiya has lived with her husband in the same area for more than 20 years. Their youngest daughter of nine lives in a shelter next to them with her husband and children, the rest have moved away.

Fosiya remembers the land before the drought: ‘It was beautiful when I was young. Everything was so pretty and green and people had plenty of livestock. It’s very different now.’

The family used to have 300 goats and sheep. Over the last four years they have watched them die, they now have less than 40 remaining.

Foysia had successfully grown some crops on the dry land. She smiled as she spoke about her small patch of sorghum (a type of sweet grain). ‘This year has been the worst, but we had some small rain which has helped my crops.’


Nimo is 35, she lives with her husband and seven children in a small community about 50km south of Hargeisa.

She used to own more than 30 goats, but now only has ten. When they died she took their carcasses far away so they didn’t rot in front of her family. ‘I could do nothing to stop it from happening. There is no more pasture for those that are left. I’m worried they will soon die too.’

Nimo has seen the landscape change drastically over the years. ‘There was plenty of rain and the livestock was in very good condition. We were living happily, it was a very good life. We are struggling with life now.’

She was given tarpaulin but could not cover her roof as the wind is too strong. ‘I have just given birth to my youngest child and I am unable to give her good shelter, I’m worried for her safety,’ she said.

When asked what makes her most happy and she said: ‘I am happy as I am but maybe better things will come.’

A smiling lady with her young boy playing hiding behind her


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Olly Burn

Extreme drought in Somaliland

Olly travelled with us to Somaliland, where the most severe drought in decades has affected around 766,000 people.

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