Somalia is currently facing its worst humanitarian crisis in the past eighteen years. Renewed fighting in Mogadishu has forced more than 1.5 million people from their homes. Over 3.6 million are now in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. Somalia is also considered one of the most dangerous countries in the world to work, with the UNHCR describing the situation as worse than Western Darfur. With a shrinking humanitarian space and limited existing health services, there is a very real and acute risk to the health of the internally displaced in Somalia.
That’s why International Medical Corps is already in Somalia, providing and maintaining essential, primary healthcare services for around 115,000 people in the Bakool and Hiran regions. Now, with €800,000 funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), International Medical Corps are expanding services, implementing a program to improve the health, nutrition, water and sanitation for vulnerable populations in Hiran (South central Somalia) and Sanaag Region (North Somalia).
Sanaag in particular is a region which has been neglected in terms of nutritional assistance, and has consequently seen a worrying rise in the rates of malnutrition in children. To combat this International Medical Corps are setting up a stabilization center in Erigavo hospital (Sanaag’s capital and one of the only hospitals in the region), a 24 hour emergency center for severely malnourished children.In Hiran International Medical Corps are establishing five Outpatient Therapeutic Feeding Centers and five Supplementary Feeding Program centers.
Rehabilitation of health care facilities and maternal health care
In a country with few existing health care facilities and one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, International Medical Corps is rehabilitating three Maternal Child Health facilities, training 15 Traditional Birth Attendants in Sanaag region, and training 20 local health workers in childhood illnesses and Safe Motherhood. An expanded program on immunization is also being carried out. This will directly target 6,000 children below 5 years of age and nearly 3,000 pregnant women.
Water and Sanitation
In August 2009 an International Medical Corps assessment in Sanaag found that due to the ongoing drought most barkhads (an underground tank used to collect and store rain water) and sand dams had dried up or were damaged and required repair. Existing boreholes constructed over 20 years ago were also in desperate need of repair to cope with larger populations and increased demand. Alongside a general shortage of water, International Medical Corps found that water quality was poor, leading to kidney and diarrheal illnesses.
Consequently, International Medical Corps are rehabilitating 16 barkhads and have provided urgently needed spare parts for the maintenance of existing boreholes. Village committees are also being established and trained in the region to educate populations on safe water and sanitation practices. The need for humanitarian assistance is as acute as it has ever been in Somalia. That’s why, despite a shrinking humanitarian space, International Medical Corps and the European Commission remain committed to helping the displaced and vulnerable people of Somalia.