IDPs in Mogadishu have to choose between caring for sick children and working

(ERGO) – Poor sanitation and lack of healthcare are increasing the risks of vulnerable displaced families living in crowded camps in the Somali capital Mogadishu to the spread of diseases like acute watery diarrhoea and cholera.

Ahmed Siyad Bulle, a father of six living with his wife in Danyar camp in Garasbaley district, explained that he was forced to stop work and stay at home to watch over his daughter who was bed ridden after falling sick with watery diarrhoea. His wife was taking care of the other children.

His daughter, Asho Ahmed Siyad, became very sick at night on 25 May and he could not access any free medical care nearby. He couldn’t afford to pay for her medical bills in nearby private health centres.

After a desperate search, he found out from other camp dwellers that he could get free treatment at Banadir hospital, where his daughter was admitted on 27 May. One of Ahmed’s friends helped him pay the $5 transport. He remained with Asho in the hospital for two days during her treatment.

This father and many other parents are faced with constant worry, as watery diarrhoea spreads rampantly among the children in camps like this.

“Parents have not gone to work since this outbreak hit. We take care of the children and we can’t work because they need care. The women normally wash clothes and the men work on construction sites. Children need to get to health centres quickly. Parents can’t just stay away and that has affected our livelihood,” he said.

Paying for transport to get to a free hospital is a further burden for these low income families.

Ahmed noted that there is poor sanitation and little awareness in the camp, which puts them at risk of contracting diseases.

“There are no toilets, children defecate in the open, the older people use toilets in neighbouring houses outside the camp. There was one toilet here in the camp but the iron-sheets were blown away by strong winds,” he said.

During the day, Ahmed sells groundnuts in Mogadishu and earns about $2 a day. He returned to work after his daughter recovered.

He also noted that his children don’t get a balanced diet and are at risk of malnutrition and other sicknesses due to their low immunity.

Ahmed and his family were displaced from Iji district near Mahaday, on the border between Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions, in March this year following clan conflict. His house and farm were burnt down in the conflict between warring clans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.