Voices from Juula, Kismayo
Due to its strategic coastal location providing access to Somalia’s most fertile lands, Kismayo’s history is one of rich culture and economic prosperity. However, after the war broke out in 1991, the Kismayo was destroyed by a series of conflicts, economic collapse and insecurity. The humanitarian situation is currently more severe and problematic than at any other time; crude mortality rate of 1.28/10 000/day in Kismayo IDPs suggest a Serious situation. Services are run down or non-existent, youth are disaffected and lack opportunities for development, and issues of gender and social exclusion impact on political participation of several key stakeholder groups.

From August 2013 to July 2014, Oxfam, DIAL and Somali Aid partnered to support over 141,00 people in the conflict and drought affected areas in Kismayu, Lower Juba, by improving access to safe and adequate water, implementing health promotion activities, providing emergency food, security and livelihoods and treatment of severely and moderately malnourished children.

Improving Access to Safe Water, Hygiene and Sanitation

Completed well in Kiamayo.

Communities living in rural Kismayu now enjoy improved access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene facilities and education. This programme has supported over 10000 people living in Bulla Malalay, Bulla Fatura, Madowa, Juula and Jiroole. In partnership with Oxfam, Somali Aid was active in supporting rehabilitation of shallow wells, building sanitation facilities in houses, treating water, teaching hygiene knowledge and skills, especially targeting children and women.

“We were the first organization to come to Juula, an island that is home to over 3000 people, to respond to community needs’’ says Maria Yassin, Somali Aid community health worker.

Essential non-food items including 20 litre Jerry cans and soap were distributed to the most vulnerable households with reported cases of malnutrition. This was to ensure that water is stored in clean and safe containers and to also promote regular hand washing with soap, especially at critical times. Shallow wells were also rehabilitated to ensure that the source of water collection was secure and kept the water clean.

“We uses to collect water that was stored in open wells,” says Omar Yussuf. “These wells were broken and the water was always dirty and unsafe. My children, my wife and I would at times fall ill. Now we use water from the same wells but don’t face the same risks. The wells were fixed and no longer allow dirt and other harmful material to enter the water. The water is also public and open seven days a week.”

Amina Bakari, a resident of Juula town, has noticed a significant change in people’s general attitudes towards sanitation and hygiene. “These days, people appreciate the presence of a toilet in or near their homes.” She says. “We learnt the benefits of using latrines during the training sponsored by the project. In our village, 65 new latrines were constructed. Being a woman, I an extremely grateful for the privacy and dignity the presence of a facility in my home affords me. Women and young girls are also safer and more comfortable using them than the open bushes.”

Holistic approach treating malnutrition

In Somalia, 304,000 children under the age of five need treatment for malnutrition. Of these, 77,000 are severely malnourished and are at high risk of death and disease. One in seven children under five suffers from acute malnutrition. The situation is worst amongst IDP communities. Among the Internally Displaces People (IDPs) settlements in Kismayu, a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM)rate of 16.6 percent and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) rate of 4.0 percent were recorded, indicating a Critical nutrition situation.

Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) is the circumference of the left upper arm, measured at the mid-point between the tip of the shoulder and the tip of the elbow. MUAC is used for the assessment of nutritional status. It is a good predictor of mortality.

Oxfam in partnership with DIAL responded to this dire situation by rehabilitating and operating of nine out-patient therapeutic programme (OTP) and Supplementary Feeding Programmes (SFP) facilities and one Stabilization Center (SC). In these facilities, over 28,300 malnourished children under five years old were screened and treated. In addition, 71 community health workers and 23 nurses Were trained on malnutrition treatment and women trained on Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF).

I am a resident of Buulafatura and am in the IYCF group. I am currently breastfeeding. One thing I learnt from the IYCF group is that the first six months the breast milks alone is enough for a child. I have never breastfed children exclusively and this is my fifth born.” says

Shukri Mohamed Guled with her child.

“In my culture, we believe that babies have to drink camel or cow milk and water after birth. That is what we inherited from our grandmothers. I still can’t imagine how small children can survive without water in this heat but I will try this method with my next child Insha’Allah. If it is meant to improve my child’s health, I will try it. I will also start sharing this knowledge with my neighbors.’

With funding from UNICEF and CIDA, the lives of over 141,000 people have been improved.

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Written by Madete Stella

Stella is Programme Information Officer for Oxfam in Somalia. She is based in Nairobi

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