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Providing water and sanitation to families displaced by conflict in Somalia

© UNICEF Somalia/2007 / Bogad
Jawahir Ahmed Elmi fled conflict in Mogadishu and is now residing at the UNICEF-supported Jim’ale camp in Afgoye.

By Misbah M. Sheikh 

AFGOYE, Somalia, 9 January 2007 – Every day, hundreds of families flee insecurity in Mogadishu in order to seek refuge in the crowded camps along Somalia’s Afgoye Corridor. Many arrive terrorized, exhausted and in urgent need of food, water and shelter.

“When I fled from Mogadishu I didn’t know where I was going or what kind of conditions I would encounter,” said Jawahir Ahmed Elmi, a recent arrival to the UNICEF-supported Jim’ale camp. “I am just grateful to be alive.”

Most of the displaced persons living in the approximately 80 camps along the Afgoye Corridor are in temporary huts made of twigs and torn clothing. Often then have no latrines, no running water and no health facilities.

However, the Jim’ale camp has water and sanitation facilities – an important asset in an environment where overcrowding can breed deadly diseases.

“I really believe that without UNICEF there would have been no water,” said Ms. Elmi.

Sustainable solutions

UNICEF has partnered with non-governmental organizations to promote sanitation awareness by organizing ‘clean-up campaigns’ and training people to maintain water and sanitation facilities. Approximately 700 latrines have already been dug and people in the camps are being provided with soap.

According to Cluster Coordinator for Water and Sanitation Julien le Sourd, UNICEF is also putting in place more sustainable solutions, including rehabilitating boreholes, extending water pipelines and improving the management of both water and sanitation facilities.

Over 200,000 people have fled to areas surrounding the town of Afgoye. About 3 million litres of water are trucked in every day along the Afgoye Corridor to save the lives of children and their families.

‘The difference between life and death’

Faduma Mohamed, a mother of six, lives in the nearby Arbiska camp, which is also getting water through UNICEF efforts.
“Water is life,” said Faduma. “When I came to this camp, we had no water close to us. If you wanted water, you either had to pay for it or walk a long distance to find it. And even then, it was often dirty, which made my children sick. Now we have enough water to drink, cook and clean our clothes and our utensils.”

An engineer with UNICEF Somalia, Mohamed Hassan, supervises water and sanitation activities in the area. He says UNICEF provides at least 10 litres of water per person per day. “To these people here, even 10 litres means the difference between life and death,” said Mr. Hassan.



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