October 31 2011

Hope restored as displaced Somalis plant next year's food

28/10/2011 - Continuous heavy rain has not dampened the spirit of thousands of men who are now returning home from crowded camps where they sought refuge after being displaced by East Africa’s worst drought in decades. They leave, assured that SOS Children’s Villages teams across Somalia will continue to assist them and their families, who require on-going lifesaving support.

Photo: SOS Archives
SOS Children's Villages is also operating an emergency medical centre in Baidoa - Photo: SOS Archives
The planting of sorghum and maize is getting underway across many parts of Somalia where men are returning home from internally displaced persons camps, such as the one at Badbado on the outskirts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu. They leave in hope that the heavy rains of recent weeks will lead to a healthy spring harvest - the first in two years.

To encourage planting, SOS Children’s Villages teams have assured them that the women and children remaining at the camp will continue to receive much-needed food supplies and medical services. Those returning to their villages are also being cared for: food and other commodities will continue be provided to the vast majority who wish to get back to a life of self-sufficiency.

While men leave the Mogadishu camp with a sense of aspiration, women and children from across the city now enter the same gates out of desperation. The insecurity that has led to the closure of the SOS Hospital in north Mogadishu on 10 October, has forced hundreds of former patients to cross various security hazards in order to reach the SOS Medical Centre in Badbado10 kilometres away.

Long-term medical care facilities unmatched by emergency relief work

Last month alone, over 4,000 people benefited from therapeutic feeding programmes and related medical care at the temporary facility. However, the clinic cannot match the sophisticated genealogical and other specialist services that the SOS Hospital has provided for free to around 7,000 patients on a monthly basis - for over two decades.

Meeting the ever-changing needs of some of the poorest people in the world is a daunting task for the SOS Children’s Villages team in Somalia. Getting from A to B in Mogadishu is a challenge in itself, not just because of the insecurity that continues to blight the capital city, but because of the impassable pools of mud on most roads that prevent movement of personnel and much-needed supplies.

Photo: SOS Archives
Abdiweli and Abdikarim were admitted to the temporary SOS Children's Village in Afgoi just recently - Photo: SOS Archives
Dialogue and long-established trust yields results

Diplomatic efforts are underway to help reopen the SOS Hospital and the adjacent SOS Children’s Village that remain closed for a third week; the SOS Children's Village had to be evacuated already in the mid of August. The narrow street that separates the two compounds functions as the battle line between troops and allies of the Somali Transitional Government and Al-Shabaab forces. The children who were evacuated as a result of the fighting are safe and continue to be cared for in a temporary village outside the city.

Photo: SOS Archives
The evacuated children are attending classes in temporary buildings made of corrugated iron sheets - Photo: SOS Archives
The distribution of food continues unabated in the Bay region of southern Somalia, an area controlled by Al-Shabaab where SOS teams have increased the level of medical services in response to a fresh outbreak of measles and the likelihood of additional cases of Acute Watery Diarrhoea.

Due to increased dialogue and an understanding of the long established achievements of SOS Children’s Villages in the region, community leaders have now provided SOS teams with the flexibility they need to supply more medical services, food and hope to southern Somalia's most needy women and children.