REPORTER: Milward Mwamvani – International Aid Services
Three weeks ago I returned from visiting the Sanaag Region of Somaliland/Somalia, following up on IAS’ various interventions. It was initially very encouraging to see the sprouting grass and fresh shoots from the desert bushes – a positive contrast from my last visit to the region in April following some brief rains in the area. Driving through the wilderness, my colleagues lamented the fact that these places used to be populated by a lot of livestock (camels, goats, sheep), but now one could just spot a few clusters of animals here and there – effects of a devastating drought.
The communities of largely nomadic herders are devastated! Many seem to be in shock from the loss of unbelievably high numbers of their livestock. Some of the people I got a chance to talk to had migrated from the area at the peak of the drought to go east in Puntland in search for pasture for their livestock, but they were back in the area, telling the same story that everyone can tell – tremendous loss …
Going to the north-west of Garadag in the region, the brief smiles disappeared from our faces as we got into a part of the region that had not received any of the rains the other parts had seen. One could clearly see the desperation in talking to members of the community. If these rains fail again, this can be catastrophic.
As we continue to serve among the people of Sanaag, our hope is that there will be some turn around in the climatic conditions. We are thankful to various donors from Denmark, Germany, the USA, and Sweden who have enabled us to provide some of the most affected communities with food, water, and medical supplies for a health centre. As we continue to hope for the best for the people of Sanaag, we trust that others will join in the efforts to ensure that these precious people not only survive this devastating drought, but also recover to get back to self-sustaining communities.
REPORTER: Milward Mwamvani
“I had one hundred animals (sheep, goats and camels), but now I only have 20, and I do not know how long they will survive.” These were the words of Hawa Darmar in Tura Village, Garadag District of Sanaag Region, Somaliland.
The IAS Humanitarian Coordinator Milward Mwamvani was in the village for a fact-finding mission and monitoring of a drought-response intervention. After several meetings with stakeholders both in Nairobi and Hargeisa, this was an eye opener. For some time, IAS has been receiving updates on the drought situation in the areas where we have been actively engaging in various projects both in the past and presently.
The drought situation has become dire in the area, as reports also confirm the general situation in Somalia/Somaliland. The story of Hawa is just one of the many sad stories that are told in this area, and other areas affected by the drought. Hawa has been displaced by the drought as she tries to find means to survive the crisis.
Moursul Salaa Hamid is one of the people affected in Taygara village. Here is how our chat went on April 12, 2017:
Milwards Question: What is your livelihood here?
Moursal: I keep livestock.
Q: How many did you have?
Moursal: I had 690 animals (600 goats and sheep, and 90 camels)
Q: How many do you have now?
Moursal: I have 20 camels and 30 goats and sheep remaining
Q: How big is your family?
Moursal: There are eleven of us in my home.
Q: You have received 25kg of rice, 25kg wheat flour, 3 liters cooking oil and 10kg dates. How long do you think these will last?
Moursal: Maybe about 15 days.
Q: What will you do after that?
Moursal: We will wait for God to act.
This is a story that can be told by many. Talking to Huse Mire Ali, a Village Elder in Shiisha Village, he expressed that he has never seen anything like the present situation in his lifetime, with villagers suffering due to lack of food and water. He hoped that his people would get more help.
IAS seeks to continue responding in the Sanaag Region and other affected areas. A lot of money is needed to get enough food and water for the people and their animals to avert a worse disaster in the area. As water has been brought to the community in trucks, the signs are that the current water source is about to dry up. One of the drivers of the trucks explained that they were presently getting the water from a place about 120km away from this particular location. He also indicated that soon they may have to get the water as far as 170km. The rains are considered late already, and everyone is now panicking, not knowing what could happen beyond this… Will you partner with us and support us to respond to the crisis in Somalia/Somaliland?
/Milward Mwamvani photo and text, on location April 2017 (post created & updated 19 Apr – HB)
REPORT BY – Milward Mwamvani – Humanitarian Coordinator – IAS
As we commemorate this World Humanitarian Day (August 19th, 2016), IAS reflects on current trends and issues in the Humanitarian circles. The Humanitarian situation around the world continues to pose many challenges, as needs increase, and the response capacity is usually limited due to financial restrictions. As natural disasters affect communities, many others are also being affected by man-made disasters, including wars and terrorism, which put humanitarian workers in harm’s way increasingly.
Despite this, IAS continues to engage in some of the most hard-to-reach areas and seek to alleviate the human suffering there. IAS is actively responding to various humanitarian situations in different countries. Notable in the past three months are rapid responses that IAS has engaged in as various disasters have unfolded.
In response to flooding that happened in Sri Lanka in May 2016, IAS partnered with local actors and rose up to alleviate the suffering of affected people. The floods led to the overflowing and back-flowing of toilet systems in the poorer areas of the city, in addition to the loss of household properties as water filled houses to about 6 feet for seven days. IAS responded by helping with the cleaning up of household and communal toilets in selected neighbourhoods of Kollonawa, Colombo, with the aim to enhance hygiene conditions and save lives. Outside the city of Colombo, in Hanwella, shallow water wells were filled with over-the-ground water, making the water unsafe for human consumption.
While a well-cleaning response was just commencing, part of the area was hit by another disaster as an army ordnance depot blew up and led to substantive destruction of property, including water wells. A response in the area has brought hope and smiles to the affected communities as they were struggling to find clean water. Above these, the dignity of women and children has been upheld by the provision of basic survival hygiene items.
Pictures: Sathees Kumar – Sri Lanka
Attacks by Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region of Niger in June 2016 led to the displacement of communities in the area, with many of them flocking to the town of Diffa in Eastern Niger. IAS, being already engaged in the provision of clean water to the IDP communities there, engaged in the provision of basic household survival kits to help the newly displaced people. The basic critical household items, and some food, have helped the affected people to begin rebuilding their lives in difficult circumstances.
Pictures: Milward Mwamvani – Diffa, Niger
The effects of the El Nino phenomenon have been felt in various countries in Africa, mostly indicated by severe food and water shortages. IAS has been working in the Borena Zone of Ethiopia for several years, working on alleviating the acute shortage of potable water. With the setting in of this current drought, IAS has embarked on the provision of emergency water through truck deliveries, while the longer-term solution is being sought by the drilling of boreholes and construction of water collection ponds. This will help in alleviating the suffering of communities and control the forced migration that would have occurred due to the need.
Picture: Ketema Kinfe – IAS Ethiopia
While IAS has been engaged in responding to the crisis-affected communities in South Sudan over the past two years both in South Sudan and Uganda, the fresh outbreak of hostilities in Juba on July 7, 2016 has led to new levels of humanitarian needs. Leading to the evacuation of staff and temporary suspension of activities among affected people in South Sudan itself, the flight of South Sudanese women and children across the border and influx into Uganda has challenged the humanitarian community. Conditions continue to be dire in the reception centres and newly opened villages. IAS is responding to the WASH needs of the displaced people and striving to help them rebuild their lives. With most of the men restricted from leaving South Sudan, the women and children that arrive face many challenges (see our earlier story at http://www.ias-intl.org/response-to-the-South-Sudan-crisis).
Pictures: Julius Bitamazire and team – IAS Uganda
Facing the Challenge
So, as we commemorate this day, we think of the communities that have suffered, and continue to suffer, not only in Sri Lanka, Niger, Ethiopia, and South Sudan/Uganda, but also those in other places facing dire needs. We appreciate our supporting partners, largely in Sweden and Denmark, who have encouraged us and mobilised financial resources to enable us respond accordingly. So, as IAS we will rise up, hold hands with supporting partners, and engage in saving lives in the other hard-to- reach regions of Yemen, Lake Chad Region, Syria, Somalia, and beyond, and alleviate the suffering of communities in those areas, as we remain Fit for Purpose.
Milward Mwamvani – Humanitarian Coordinator – International Aid Services-
To pour a glass of water is something that many of us take for granted, we just go to the tap and fill it up. For many girls and women in Kenya an everyday thing like having access to water can be associated with extreme danger. This used to be true for Joyce Kennedy, 19, from Kenya.
This is Joyce Kenedy, 19 years old, from Tharaka, Nithi County, Kenya. Ten years ago almost nothing could grew in this area, and people were completely dependent on the rainy season. Lack of rain resulted in crops destroyed which lead to famine. To fetch water for her family Joyce used to walk several kilometers every day, which often meant dangerous walks in the evenings where she risked being vulnerable to sexual violence.
– Often when I went to fetch water men shouted after me and called me names. It made me scared and I didn’t feel safe. Constantly being exposed to this was very stressful, says Joyce.
A few years ago IAS built a water irrigation system in Tharaka where water is taken from a nearby river and distributed to 130 local farmers so that they can grow vegetables and fruits. The purpose of this was so the farmers would become self-sufficient and not dependent on rainy seasons. For Joyce and her family, it means that they receive water directly to their house from a water pipe.
– Now when we get water directly into the garden we are able to grow food to sell at the market. I also no longer need to be exposed to the risks that came with these walks, says Joyce.
IAS in Kenya
IAS has been working in Kenya since 1994 and currently has five projects in the country. The focus is implementing education, water, hygiene and sanitation, peace-prevention measures and relief aid in different parts of the country. This project was funded by the Swedish Mission Council l, Erikshjälpen, Linas Matkasse and Mockfjärds Fönster.
Text and photo: Rebecka Woods
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