Nairobi/Geneva (ICRC) – Some 23,000 people affected by severe flooding in Kismayo, in southern Somalia, have received emergency assistance from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent Society (SRCS) this week. This included providing cash grants, essential household items and health care and restoring clean water supplies.
The port city of Kismayo and other coastal areas of the Lower Juba region were inundated as a result of exceptionally heavy rains between 24 May and 6 June. “Due to its low-lying coastal location, drainage is particularly poor in this area,” explained Raphael Wittwer, who is helping to lead the operations. “Around 26,000 displaced people living in camps and nearby communities are still swamped by stagnant water.” Five young children are already known to have drowned or died from hypothermia. “As is always the case, it is those who were already struggling to survive who have been worst hit, in particular those who have fled the fighting and are living in camps,” said Mr Wittwer.
Those affected have had their shelters and possessions destroyed by the floods or have been unable to access their homes. Latrines have been flooded and water sources contaminated. Recurring natural shocks of this kind, on top of the ongoing armed conflict in the country, are taking their toll on the people of Somalia.
The ICRC and SRCS have swung into action by providing 23,000 displaced people with cash grants of 50 US dollars each, calculated to help them cover their food and other basic needs for the next few weeks. Of these, some 1,500 families (9,000 people) also received essential household items (including tarpaulins, plastic mats, clothes, jerry cans, cooking sets and hygiene items). In addition, a temporary mobile health clinic established in partnership with the Somali Red Crescent Society has started to treat people in the camps, and work is ongoing to chlorinate wells contaminated by the flooding.
Apart from this emergency response, the ICRC has also been busy in 2014 supporting Kismayo hospital, which it is currently renovating, and the main stabilization centre for children suffering from severe acute malnutrition, as well as a Somali Red Crescent primary health-care clinic. The ICRC has provided 300 internally displaced people and vulnerable families with small business start-up grants, and trained 300 fishermen and women in fishing techniques, while simultaneously repairing 30 boats; all with the aim of helping them to become self-sufficient. ICRC staff also visit people held in the central prison to monitor their treatment and detention conditions.