News / Africa

Rainy Season May Not Bring Relief to Horn of Africa

An internally displaced Somali woman holds her malnourished child inside their temporary home in Hodan district, south of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, September 20, 2011.
An internally displaced Somali woman holds her malnourished child inside their temporary home in Hodan district, south of Somalia's capital Mogadishu, September 20, 2011.

While meteorologists expect above-average rains in drought-stricken areas of the Horn of Africa this season, this might not be such good news for displaced people.  Aid agencies say the rainy season could spread disease and cause a spike in death rates among vulnerable populations.  

The World Meteorological Organization has said normal to above-average rainfall is expected in the areas of southern Somalia and Kenya that have been suffering from the worst drought in 60 years.

The news is a welcome relief for farmers who lost crops and livestock after the complete failure of the last two rainy seasons.

But, aid agencies are concerned that the rains will initially bring more suffering for populations displaced and weakened by drought and famine.

Astrid Sehl is a political advisor for the Norwegian Refugee Council, which works in Somalia and in the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya.

"We are extremely concerned for the first days and weeks into the next rain season because we know that the risk for disease spreading will increase, we know that children now who are severely malnourished will be very vulnerable to diseases like cholera, for instance, and diarrhea and we are afraid that many more children will die when the rain comes," said Sehl.

The United Nations estimates that nearly one-third of all Somalis, nearly 2.5 million people, have been displaced from their homes, a large portion of them this year.

Many of those who relocated within Somalia are lacking even the most basic shelter.  Outbreaks of cholera and measles have already been reported in makeshift camps.

Andy Needham, a Nairobi-based spokesperson for the U.N. refugee agency, UNHCR, says this is a dangerous situation, as aid workers learned from the last famine nearly 20 years ago.

"What our colleagues are telling us is that they were caught unprepared back in '92, and that when the rains came they had a very significant adverse affect on the state of the camps in terms of the shelter and also it had a knock-on effect in terms of the increased levels of hypothermia and increased levels of infant mortality, especially among the under-five," said Needham.

UNHCR is stepping up efforts to provide emergency assistance to internally displaced people in Somalia.  Needham says the agency has already reached about 200,000 people with packages that include plastic sheeting, blankets, basic cooking equipment and soap.

There are also major concerns at the overcrowded Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya, which are hosting over 450,000 refugees, including 160,000 Somalis who fled there this year

Hassan Bashir, who lives at the Hagadera camp in Dadaab, says rains cause widespread problems every year.

"We'll see a lot of floods affecting the blocks and also the food distributions, especially Ifo, because it has soft ground, whereby the floods go through to the stores where WFP and CARE, they keep food for the refugees.  Also houses will also break because of the heavy floods and also because of the heavy weather, these are the conditions which will arise," he said.

Bashir says even the solid homes that some refugees live in, which are made of mud brick, have been known to collapse in heavy rain, sometimes killing the residents inside.

Conditions are even worse for the thousands of refugees living on the outskirts of the camps in shelters made of sticks.

The rains are expected to start in the coming weeks.  But U.N. experts say it will take at least two successful cycles of rain, planting and harvests before the Horn can fully recover from the drought.

That means the region may not see true relief from the food crisis until at least August of next year.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs