IRC helping water-deprived communities in Somalia’s worst drought in a decade - Media Alert
As Somalia faces its worst drought in a decade, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) is stepping up efforts to provide more and cleaner water to tens of thousands of Somalis in affected communities.
“Without good access to water, livestock are dying, leaving their owners in dire straits without their main source of income or food,” says Bruce Hickling, country director for Somalia. “We’ve seen some herds depleted by up to 60%.”
Just last week, the United Nations announced Somalia is in the grip of its worst drought in a decade. Around 45% of the entire population is suffering from malnutrition, while more than 1 million people have been forced from their homes by fighting between the Transitional Federal Government and Islamic insurgents.
This huge movement of people is putting a huge strain on water resources, with hand-dug wells in some areas having dried up entirely.
Hickling says: “On a recent trip from Gaalkacyo to Gellinsoor, I visited a key borehole that supplies tens of thousands of people with water. It’s on the verge of breaking down due to overuse – it’s running consistently for 16 to 18 hours a day. If boreholes like this do collapse, it’s a major problem as they also feed the dozens of water trucks that take supplies to even worse-hit areas,” adds Hickling.
The borehole in Gellinsoor is just one that the IRC is rehabilitating, along with dozens of hand-dug wells. IRC experts are also building dedicated animal drinking troughs, benefitting more than 70,000 people altogether in the Mudug region.
Yet it’s not just about improving the quantity of water available. The IRC is also working hard to improve the quality of water and make the whole process less dangerous.
“In one village, an elderly lady had recently fallen into an uncovered well and died,” says Hickling. “Many of these wells are nothing but a wide hole in the ground, which creates quite a hazard. Also, when the rains come, all the nearby rubbish and animal waste is easily washed in. So the IRC is covering these wells to protect residents and the water quality.”
IRC water and sanitation experts also carried out a quick survey of villages around Hobyo, towards the coast, and found most had no sanitation facilities at all. Some villages with up to 350 households – that’s around 2,100 people – didn’t have a single toilet. When the rains do start in earnest, such poor hygiene practices create an ideal breeding ground for disease. The IRC is therefore helping such communities to build latrines.
The crisis in Somalia requires massive assistance from the international community, as the Somali people continue to struggle amid desperate conditions.
For more information:
Bruce Hickling, Country Director for Somalia: +254 734 609 900.
Joanne Offer, Regional Media Manager: +254 737 800 028
About the International Rescue Committee: A global leader in humanitarian assistance, the International Rescue Committee works in 42 countries offering help and hope to refugees and others uprooted by conflict and oppression. During crises, IRC teams provide health care, shelter, clean water, sanitation, learning programs for children and special aid for women. As emergencies subside, the IRC stays to revive livelihoods and help shattered communities recover and rebuild. The IRC also helps resettle refugees admitted into the United States. A tireless advocate for the most vulnerable, the IRC is committed to restoring hope, dignity and opportunity. For more information, visit www.theIRC.org