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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Somalia: The Long Road Home

Somalia’s rapid descent into famine was well underway when the UN declared the East African country to be a state of famine nearly a year ago.

The UN has since rescinded its declaration of famine, but this does not mean Somali families, especially those currently living in displaced person camps, are not at risk.

Currently, around 2.5 million people in Somalia continue to need assistance, and an additional 1.2 million could fall back into crisis very quickly without the type of sustained assistance provided by organizations like HOPE International Development Agency.

Without a doubt, the ascent out of famine is going to be much slower than the descent.

Recent rains have helped in some areas of the country, but other areas remain much like they were before the famine.

In some areas, modest gains are expected in harvests where families were able to plant crops.

Yet for millions of Somalia’s population, talk of rains and harvests borders on the irrelevant as they are still living in displaced persons camps and unable to return home at this point. The conditions that forced them to flee their homes in search of shelter, food, and water persist today, but then again, so does our resolve to help!

From the outset of the crisis, and even before famine was declared, it has been HOPE International Development Agency’s desire to accomplish two key things with and for displaced families in Somalia.

Firstly, we want to do everything we can to ensure that families survive and become healthy enough to make the journey home when the time comes. We had hoped that many would have been able to return home this year, but the conditions simply are not right at this time. Families would be inviting suffering and death into their lives if they left the camps at this time.

Secondly, we want to ensure that when families do return home, they have access to the knowledge, supplies, and tools they will need to become self-reliant again.

The sum of these two initiatives will ensure that returning families and their communities become drought resistant and as such, are able to survive and thrive in the challenging conditions that are characteristic of this region of Africa.

Right now, however, our attention is focused on two major concerns related to our work among families in Taagwey camp on the outskirts of Mogadishu, the nation's capital city:

Food supplies are running critically low
The emergency food supplies that are keeping families alive until they can return home are starting to run out. We need to restock these vital supplies as soon as possible.

Water is in short supply
The camp water supply, a borehole well with an insufficient pump and no storage capacity, is failing to keep up with even the minimal needs of Taagwey, whose population has swelled to 12,000 from its original population of 3,200 people before the crisis began.

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