By Sara A. Fajardo
Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has teamed up with Sean Devereux Human Rights Organization (SEDHURO) to roll out a two-phase response to the flooding in the southern Somali region of Kismayo. The initial phase will reach nearly one quarter (1,750) of the estimated 7,061 affected families. Above-average rainfall during the April-June rainy season, compounded by inadequate to non-existent drainage systems, has affected residents of 43 displacement camps. Many people lost their makeshift homes that were made up of recycled cartons, palm leaves, plastic sheets, rugs, mud, sticks and metal sheets. Pests and rodents have been infesting the camps as they seek refuge from the floods. Large piles of organic and inorganic waste have piled up as a result of the floods. Pungent odors caused by sitting water, flooded latrines and rotting trash permeate the camps and surrounding communities.
“The stagnant water could become a major health threat,” says Malone Miller, CRS Country Manager for Somalia. “Even before the floods, the conditions in these camps were very basic and access to water, adequate nutrition and sanitation was at a minimum. The rotting waste and standing water can lead to outbreaks of disease, such as diarrhea, if preventive measures aren’t taken. The next 30 days are critical if we are to avoid loss of life and further displacement of people.”
CRS, in partnership with SEDHURO, will provide basic items such as plastic sheeting to be used for roofing, jerry cans for storing drinking and cooking water, and chlorine tablets for water purification. Additionally, SEDHURO will work with camp residents to develop drainage canals to help reduce the levels of standing water in the camps.
“It is imperative that we act now before the monsoon season begins next month,” says Hared IIbrahim Osman, Executive Director at SEDHURO. “These winds will make travel difficult and we can expect a spike in the price of basic commodities. With limited access to jobs and land to farm, even a small spike in food prices will cause already stressed families to cut back on meals, therefore putting the health of each family member in jeopardy.”
Sara Fajardo is CRS’ regional information officer for eastern and southern Africa, based in Nairobi.