ACTNews, BAIDOA, Somalia – Sirens of hunger are still echoing around the corner cities of Somalia. Baidoa is one of those cities. Located in the governing area of Bay, many locals suffers from hunger, malnutrition, skin disease and digestion sickness. Concerned about the situation United Nation’s Secretary General, António Guterres on Thursday (9/3), reminded the world about the threat overshadowing Somalia whilst paying a visit to refugee camps. With his own eyes, he saw the effect on millions of Somalis now on the brink of hunger and even death.
In these last few weeks, Baidoa has drawn the attention of medias across the globe. The critical situation has even forced Gueterres to visit the area assessing the situation several days ago. We can still recall when Somalia’s prime minister stated that 110 people have died in the Bay area in just 2 days suffering from hunger and skin disease due to bad sanitation. These are the real situation from one of the several cities badly affected in Somalia. What’s more shocking is, the death toll has risen since Wednesday (8/3).
“The situation is getting crucial. In the Bay area alone about 140 people have died from diarrhea. Victims are mainly women and children,” Ali “Marguus” Adan Hussein (65) said to ACTNews on Wednesday (8/3). ACT partner, Ali “Marguus” Adan Hussein is a former Defence Minister for Somalia in the era of President Abdiqasim Salad Hassan (2000-2004).
The unending drought has made the Bay area worse in the last four month. Normally, rainwater should’ve moistened the land late last year, but until today not a single drop is seen. Cracks have formed all over the area atop dry grounds. To depend on wells and dams is also useless because they too have dried up.
According to Ali, the Bay area has failed to plant or cultivate crop from farms and gardens in the last two years. In his hometown, Baidoa, more than 20 thousand farmlands have dried up causing crop to fail. Not to mention, this crisis has also caused resident’s livestock to die by dehydration.
“In total 100 thousand has died, including camels, cows, and goats,” he explained. He also said the situation have made farmers and breeders alike confused, leaving them helpless. Settlement in other districts now doesn't have any source of food, clean water, and even livestock left. Adding to the situation, the escalating conflicts has forced residents to leave their villages and search elsewhere to fulfil their need for food.
"Baidoa is getting full and overcrowded by internal refuges,” he said.
Ali also mentioned there are now 100 refugee areas in Baidoa with a single area consisting of 100 families. They have now become internal refugees, designating from districts in the Bay area such as Bardalle, Qansaxdhere, Dinsoor, and Burhakabe, and numbers increasing.
On Thursday (9/3), information from Al Jazeera revealed more than 200 people without any source of food, clean water and affected by conflict have preferred to leave their homes for Baidoa. In their minds, the area they are heading for is much better, because humanitarian organizations and the local government always provide supplies of food and clean water.
But what they don’t know is, the conditions of camps in Baidoa isn’t what they expect. As mentioned by Ali, the diarrhea epidemic has claimed about 140 lives, while water has been contaminated by diarrhea bacteria and cholera. The only way to obtain clean water is by fetching fluid from city central located 5,5 kilometers away from camp.
The Root of the Problem is Lack of Clean Water
“The main problem here (Baidoa) is water. There is almost no clean water in villages. To obtain water, internal refugee and people living in rural areas must fetch water from city central owned by private companies,” Ali said.
In 2016, refugees can still obtain several liters of water in Baidoa, but nowadays this is not possible. But no cultivation period and death to their livestock, where must they obtain livelihood? Refugees now depend only on humanitarian support. But the issue is, emergency response aid is not enough to fulfill the necessities of the unending increase of refugees.
Local government and business communities are now budgeting humanitarian support for internal refugees in Baidoa. Ali said, support budget can reach up to USD 300 thousand in the form of clean water and food. This is the only support they have in the midst of this prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall.
Despite support for Somalia is arriving for all over the world, but there is no permanent solution that can relieve drought and hunger issues in Somalia down to the roots. Early 2017 is the third-time Somalia has been confronted by drought and hunger in the last 25 years. This has made United Nations and other humanitarian organizations all around the world in motion, providing aid to the so-called renewed hunger crisis. Ensuring the death of 260 thousand lives in 2010-2012 will not reoccur.
But in the midst of many support provided for Somalis, isn’t it time we provide them with a long-term solution to end drought and food crisis to the roots? As explained by Ali, clean water has become the main issue for the people. By providing villages with deep drilled water wells, locals don’t have to worry about crop failure, cattle death or bad sanitation, inflicting deadly diseases.