Epidemic creeps into flood-ravaged Somalia region

Epidemic creeps into flood-ravaged Somalia region

Floods in southwestern Somalia’s Dorou district may have begun to recede for now, but distraught families who lost their homes and livelihoods in the mud floods are now at risk of a potentially deadly disease. exposed to

Shukri Abdi Osman, a 34-year-old mother of three, was among the refugees in Dorou with her children as flash floods engulfed much of the town and forced the evacuation of around 700 families. They are taking shelter in a camp.

“I have never seen such a devastating flood before. It all happened so quickly. By the time I realized the water was coming, it was too late to gather all my belongings. We left home in the middle of the night, but all we were able to catch were our children,” she told AFP.

Osman, the family’s breadwinner, believes he has a bright future ahead of him as he plans to expand his thriving fruit and vegetable kiosk in Dorow’s Gaboro district on the Juba River near the Ethiopian border. He said he was there.

“But I ended up coming to this IDP settlement, desperately waiting for the situation to change. My business was gone, my property was destroyed, my house was flooded,” said the child. He spoke as he struggled to light the firewood to prepare food for his family.

~”Water leak from septic tank”~
And now the disease threatens her family.

“Toilets have been destroyed and even tap water is mixed with dirty flood water, including leaks from septic tanks,” she said.

“The conditions in this camp are very difficult and my daughter is not feeling well and may already have malaria or typhoid fever.”

Somalia’s government has declared a state of emergency over what the United Nations calls a “once-in-a-century” flood that has claimed around 100 lives and left 700,000 homeless across the country.

Torrential rains linked to the El Niño phenomenon are hitting the Horn of Africa, following the worst drought in 40 years that has pushed millions of people to the brink of starvation in Somalia.

It is considered one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and is trapped in a vicious cycle of drought and floods.

But it is particularly ill-equipped to deal with the crisis, as it grapples with deep poverty and a deadly Islamist insurgency.

During one of the worst El Niño events in late 1997 and early 1998, the Juba River burst its banks, killing at least 1,800 people in Somalia alone.

Recent floods have washed away homes, schools, farmland, roads and bridges, leaving many without shelter, food and clean drinking water.

– “Children bitten by mosquitoes” –
Mohamed Dahir, water and sanitation officer for US charity Mercy Corps, told AFP that humanitarian agencies were now concerned about vulnerable populations.

“There is a high possibility of malaria outbreaks due to mosquitoes, and there are also concerns about watery diarrhea due to possible contamination of water supplies.”

“We don’t know exactly the level of contamination yet, but what we are seeing is that wells are contaminated with leaking septic tanks and destroyed toilets in the affected areas.”

In an update last week, the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA said 33 districts in Somalia have been hit by flooding, cases of acute watery diarrhea (AWD), or cholera, have increased significantly and cases of malaria have also increased. .

It said there were concerns that contaminated standing water around schools posed a “significant risk” of waterborne diseases to schoolchildren.

Sadia Sharif Hassan, a 40-year-old mother of seven, sits in a makeshift shelter in Darrow IDP camp, begging neighbors for containers to collect water.

“The most important thing is to save children’s lives,” she told AFP. She said her family barely had enough food to eat every day.

“The mosquitoes are persistent and some of my children are already feeling sick and suffering from fever… Their bodies are now full of bites.”

– “I narrowly escaped with my life” –
In Gabouloh, 70-year-old Ourijo Mohamed Abdirahman nearly slipped and fell into the mud while trying to rescue his belongings from a damaged corrugated metal house, only to find everything washed away. .

“This is what remains of the house where I lived with my sick son, his children, and his wife,” she said desperately. “We were running for our lives and had nothing else on our backs.”

She and her family must rely on the kindness of well-wishers who provide food and clothing.

Somalia is trapped in a never-ending cycle of drought and floods.

During one of the worst El Niño events in late 1997 and early 1998, the Juba River burst its banks, killing at least 1,800 people.

Mursal Mohamed Adan, a member of the Gabooroo committee, said authorities were anxiously awaiting assistance from aid agencies.

“God knows what will happen next, but we remain concerned that the situation will get worse if the rain continues and more flooding occurs.”

Source: guardian.ng

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