Somalia: Providing Water to Drought-Stricken Communities
People in this part of Somalia are struggling to cope. Two poor rainy seasons in a row have meant there's little grazing land for goats or camels. Rising food prices caused by runaway inflation make it difficult to buy food from other sources.
"Families tell me that they're only eating one meal a day," says IRC community liaison officer Farhan Ahmed. "They've suffered frequent droughts, which mean it's getting harder and harder to keep their livestock alive. If people lose their animals, they lose their main source of food and income; they become totally dependent on other people for help."
To help support local communities, the IRC is rehabilitating wells that will bring clean drinking water to more than 2,400 families - about 14,400 people - and their livestock. By making sure the wells are dug sufficiently deep and are not contaminated more water of an improved quality can be pumped.
"Wells here are too shallow to provide much water. What they do provide is often undrinkable because it is too salty, or because it has been contaminated," Ahmed says. "We need to clean out these wells, dig them deeper and make sure they're covered from further contamination."
A recent IRC survey conducted of three local villages and four camps for displaced people, found that the average family consumes just 5 liters of water per day. (That's approximately two large fizzy drink bottles of water for an entire family.)
Lack of sanitation is also a concern, Ahmed says. "I was shocked to see that in one camp there was only one toilet for 37 families. In another location, there weren't any at all."
The survey also found that only 29 percent of all households had access to a nearby latrine. About a quarter of all households - 23 percent - had reported at least one case of diarrhea within the previous two weeks. Diarrhea is usually caused by poor sanitary conditions and polluted water.
The IRC is building 200 latrines in Mudug and is working with women and mothers to raise their awareness of the need for good hygiene practices. IRC staff members are also training community volunteers in how to use simple, effective methods to improve health - for example, by boiling drinking water and washing hands at key times.
The IRC has been working in Mudug since November 2007. It last worked in Somalia in 1995.