Blair Orr - Somalia

I worked in the eight refugee camps around Luuq, Somalia in 1982 and 1983. Luuq is reported to be the hottest place in the world. While other places may also lay claim to this honor, even if Luuq is not the hottest, it is hot. The coldest night there it dropped to a bone-chilling 67 degrees F. My first three months were spent living in a 2 meter by 3 meter tent which captured the heat. It was a wonderful place to experience malaria.

Home Sweet Home with a few beds of seedlings in front, never far from work.

After three months my house was ready. The big tent behind the house is the supply tent, where the cats and the really BIG lizards would get in fights late at night.

The New Home.

Depending upon whose head count you believed, there were 120,000 to 180,000 refugees living in close quarters in the camps.

Cali Matan camp.

Every household needed fuelwood. The easiest way to obtain it was to go outside the camp and gather wood. Progressively, the land around the camps was degraded and stripped.

Just outside of Cali Matan camp. The land is nearly bare.

Our job was to plant fast-growing tree species in the barren land.

Land preparation before the rainy season.

Education was far more important than tree planting. Eventually the refugees would leave the camps and taking skills and tools with them would be valuable.

A class on soil preparation for seedlings.

We also developed low technology nurseries. The water tank in the picture below captures overflow from the refugee camp's water distribution system.

Nursery water tank.

Photo of Blair Orr by Kathryn McMahon, Luuq Somalia 1983.

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Most recent update: April 23, 1998.