Somalia facing alarming food and water shortages
Over 20% of Somalia’s population are facing alarming food and water shortages due to an ongoing drought.
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During the last year, climate change, conflict, hunger and Covid-19 have all threatened the lives of communities we support in the world’s poorest places - and our mission to end extreme poverty. Here’s a deep dive into eight emergencies we responded to in 2021.
On 22 March, a devastating fire broke out in the Kutupalong Balukhali Extension, a refugee camp hosting Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh. The fire caused significant damage to several camps, affecting 88,000 people and leaving 48,300 homeless.
This significantly exacerbated the existing needs of the Rohingya community, who were already living in precarious conditions. The fire not only destroyed people’s homes and belongings, it also damaged critical latrines, water pumps, health facilities, learning centres and distribution sites.
Our team in Bangladesh gave displaced families shelter and home cooking sets, distributed clean water and offered much-needed psychosocial support. We also joined forces with the World Food Programme to provide over 10,000 hot meals every day to those affected.
On 22 May, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Mount Nyiragongo, erupted in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Situated only 10 kilometres from the nearby city of Goma, the lava flow destroyed numerous houses, schools and basic infrastructure. Following the eruption, earthquakes and volcanic activities forced more than 200,000 people from Goma to flee their homes and evacuate to safety.
Goma, which had a population of 2 million people, saw 32 people tragically losing their lives and over 1,000 homes destroyed as a result of the eruption.
Since the incident, our staff on the ground have been assisting the communities in Goma, working to improve water, sanitation and hygiene.
They have worked closely with six primary schools in Goma to promote good hygiene in the wake of the destruction of basic infrastructure, training 4,350 pupils, 113 teachers, 80 parents and 60 hygiene committee members on good hygiene practices. The team has also constructed or rehabilitated 55 latrines, 5 garbage pits and 14 handwashing stations.
We’re now working closely with other organisations such as the United Nations to expand our support to people who have lost their households and livelihoods due to the eruption and will be affected long-term.
In July, exceptionally heavy monsoon rains in Bangladesh led to widespread flooding and landslides in Cox’s Bazar, home to almost one million Rohingya refugees.
Eight people were killed – five from one family – and thousands more displaced. Over 6,000 shelters were damaged, while communal latrines became unusable and clean water unavailable. Home gardens - which allowed households to grow their own food – were destroyed, while the floods also heightened the risk of water-borne diseases. These, along with Covid-19, became yet another threat to the health of refugees living in the camp.
This devastating disruption came at a time when the Rohingya people were just beginning to rebuild their homes and lives, after the fire in March.
In the immediate aftermath of the floods, we provided emergency food items like rice cakes, sugar, bread and bottled water, along with hygiene kits, health kits and non-food items, as requested by local authorities. Despite the constraints, we were also able to continue our life-saving nutrition programme for malnourished children and pregnant women in the Rohingya refugee camps.
We’re also running three long-term projects across Bangladesh, helping vulnerable communities find practical ways to recover from flooding, strengthen their resilience ahead of future climate emergencies and build livelihoods that are adaptable against the ever-evolving impacts of climate change.
On 14 August, a magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook Haiti. Over 1,200 people lost their lives and more than 5,700 were injured when the earthquake struck, hitting South, Grand'Anse and Nippe departments. All three areas were further rocked by a number of aftershocks throughout the day and into the night.
Over 12,000 houses were damaged or destroyed, displacing thousands of families. Churches, schools, hospitals, hotels and government buildings were also among the buildings which collapsed or were badly damaged by the earthquake.
The disaster came at a precarious time for local populations, in the middle of hurricane season. Days later, Tropical Storm Grace compounded the situation, bringing heavy rains that triggered mudslides. This was a devastating blow for the people of Haiti, who are still recovering from the catastrophic earthquake that took place in 2010.
Concern’s team in Haiti worked with our partners in the region to assess the immediate needs of local communities. They distributed 2,000 hygiene kits and emergency cash to over 1,000 families, as well as providing blankets and shelter kits, to help people build safe places to live temporarily.
Right now, Afghanistan is in crisis. Millions of people are coping with decades of conflict, while the health and socio-economic impacts of drought and the Covid-19 pandemic have seen the number of people in need dramatically increase.
Currently more than half the population do not have enough to eat. Over the coming winter months, temperatures in Afghanistan will drop to below -12⁰C and in mountainous areas, winter temperatures may dip to -25⁰C. With so many families on the brink of famine and children already dying, this will make conditions even worse. Many of these people have fled their homes quickly in search of safety, leaving behind access to food, shelter and essential items we take for granted.
Concern Worldwide have been working in Afghanistan for over two decades and we already have strong links with local communities who help ensure aid gets to where it’s needed most.
In recent months, our teams in the north and northeast of the country have been addressing a number of key needs such as providing families with items like blankets and soap, providing chickens to provide a source of income and food, and strengthening the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people so that they can support themselves.
Concern will stay in Afghanistan and we will deliver. As long as our staff are safe and secure, we are committed to reaching people in need and continuing our work with some of the poorest and most marginalised communities.
Throughout 2021, renewed armed conflict has significantly disrupted people’s lives and livelihoods in several regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Meanwhile, Covid-19 has had a major impact on food prices, and countrywide economic decline has led to families being unable to buy food and other necessities. As a consequence, there are now more people facing a severe hunger crisis in the DRC than has ever been recorded in any country.
According to a recent evaluation, 27.3 million people are currently facing severe or acute food insecurity in the DRC, while 7 million people face emergency levels of food insecurity, meaning they are on the brink of famine. UNICEF estimates that as many as 3.4 million children under the age of five in the DRC will suffer from acute malnutrition this year.
More than half of the country — a figure as high as 50 million — also lacks access to clean water. This is especially worrying following several epidemics in recent years, including the world’s second-largest Ebola outbreak, measles, malaria and cholera.
Concern has been working in the DRC for 27 years, providing both emergency and development programming. Along with other non-governmental organisations, we’re currently implementing emergency response programmes to over half a million displaced or conflict-affected people in eastern DRC, funded by UK aid.
Last year we also launched innovative mobile rapid response teams that have the ability to respond to displacement across the country more quickly. They are providing emergency support to households fleeing conflict or natural disasters to help them to buy food, access clean water and obtain hygiene kits. In 2020, 159,000 recently displaced people were supported by these teams.
On 5 November, 99 people were killed, and more than 100 people severely injured, after a massive explosion on the outskirts of Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown.
The devastating blast was caused by a collision at a busy junction between a fuel tanker and a lorry. Fuel spilled before igniting, engulfing bystanders, vehicles and motorbike-taxi riders who had flocked to collect the leaking fuel. The country’s Vice-President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh called the incident a "national tragedy”.
In the immediate aftermath of the accident, Concern’s team in Sierra Leone provided essential medical supplies - including sterile gloves and wound dressings - to local health facilities to treat victims with severe burns. Drawing on experience from our Ebola response, we also supported the Ministry of Health and Sanitation to reunite family members with the graves of their dead loved ones who had to be buried before they could be identified.
We are also continuing our long-term programmes to combat suffering and build resilience across Sierra Leone, focussing on livelihoods, health, education and gender equality.
Somalia is currently facing a looming drought situation, following below average rains over the last three consecutive rainy seasons, and no rain during the current rainy season. This has resulted in a shortage of water, loss of crops, a high number of livestock deaths and skyrocketing food and water prices.
As of 30 November, the United Nations estimated that 2.6 million people in Somalia - 22% of the population - were affected by the drought, with 113,000 people displaced across the country as a result. This has worsened an already fragile humanitarian situation impacted by conflict, climate change, desert locust infestations and the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s now estimated that 7.7 million people will need urgent assistance in 2022 – an increase of 30% from 2021.
Concern has been working in Somalia since 1986 and our team there is supporting the looming humanitarian situation in the Gedo region. Their initial response includes water trucking - where water is transported over long distances to people in areas with no permanent water points - cash assistance, deepening 15 shallow wells and assessing the rehabilitation needs of three boreholes.
Further responses are being planned to address additional needs, including health and nutrition as additional funding becomes available.
It’s only with the incredible help of our supporters that we were able to respond quickly and considerately in these situations. If you’d like to support our response to emergencies like these, please visit concern.org.uk/donate or click the button below.