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

Hostage Crisis Could Divide Japan Over Plans to Boost Military

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Monday the government is working closely with the Jordanian government to secure the release of remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto More

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Country's youngest ever PM Alexis Tsipras, 40, sworn in Monday and says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts More

Multimedia National Geographic Photo Camps Empower Youth

Annual mentoring program's mission is to give young people a voice to tell their own stories through photography 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.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid