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Camp in Baidoa is home to IDPs

© UNICEF Somalia/Sept-06/DSJohnson
With UNICEF support these women are now able to access clean drinking water.

BP1 camp, Baidoa: A place internally displaced people call ‘home’

Denise Shepherd-Johnson

December 2006 - For over 15 years many Somalis fleeing conflict in the capital, Mogadishu settled in the town of Baidoa in southern Somalia, establishing a camp for internally displaced people (IDPs), which has become known as Bay Project 1 or BP1.

Though they lack schools and health services, people have found security here, away from the tensions in their home locations. And following the drought emergency earlier this year, members of the community now have the benefit of a constant and safe water supply.

With UNICEF support a 30 metre borehole, with a yield of 10,000 liters water per hour, has been rehabilitated within the camp. The borehole, repair of a water tank and the provision of water kiosks have made a world of difference.

The provided water facilities serve 300 families in the camp in addition to the neighbouring community. A generator and 600 metres of pipeline channel water to three kiosks. Internally displaced people can collect water for free from a kiosk subsidized by residents of the community who pay 2000 Somali shillings (approximately US 14 cents) per 200 litre drum at two other kiosks.

Assisted by UNICEF, residents of the camp have also built 20 household latrines as the first stage in a project to promote good sanitation practices and prevent diarrhoeal diseases.

The internally displaced people of BP1 were formerly farmers. Having lost their livestock and their land they now make a hardscrabble life in the camp collecting firewood and breaking rocks to make gravel for construction.

Chairman of the camp, Omar Abduraman Isack (a BP1 resident since 1991) says, “People have come [here] from Wajid, Huddur, Lower Shabelle and Bakool. Before, we had a good life, now it’s a struggle. Now we don’t have any assets.”

But at least they feel safe. Says Omar, “Since the [Transitional Federal] government came here we feel more secure”.  Among their concerns he cites medical problems and a lack of education. Children at the camp do not go to ‘formal’ school because at 30,000 Somali shillings per month (approx US$2.00) Omar says, “We cannot pay.”

Some 40 children, aged 6 – 10, attend a Koranic school run by the community for a weekly contribution of 1000 Somali shillings per child. The teacher, who has no formal training, teaches only the Koran. Wooden slats and ink made from charcoal are the only school supplies.

Those living in the camp access health services, nutritional screening and health education at a UNICEF-supported health clinic 2km away, run by the International NGO, Caritas. Says Omar “There are queues and you must go early to get in but it’s free”

There is still much to be done at BP1. At this camp, as at others across Somalia, UNICEF is working closely with partners and communities to improve the conditions for internally displaced people and ensure they receive the basic services required for their health and well-being. Meanwhile efforts continue to seek longer term, more sustainable approaches and explore viable opportunities for their resettlement.




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