ICRC: Hundreds of thousands of Somali civilians struggling to overcome effects of armed conflict

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WAM GENEVA, July 16th, 2013 (WAM)– Hundreds of thousands of civilians in Somalia are struggling to overcome the effects of armed conflict and localized climatic shocks, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Over the last six months, many Somalis have been overcoming the effects of the major drought crisis of 2011-2012 and are on their way to earning a living without outside help. The ICRC and the Somali Red Crescent Society have been supporting them in these efforts, while also taking action to ensure that they have better access to water and health care, ICRC said in a press release Tuesday.

“Life is not easy; it is very hard to get necessities such as food, shelter and clothing,” said Daud Osman Shiil, from Tuulo Hiiran in the Hiiran region. “We struggle to earn a living any way we can. Sometimes we sell firewood in the villages to make a few thousand shillings.” “It is important to boost people’s efforts to earn an income on their own,” said Patrick Vial, head of the ICRC delegation for Somalia. “We help them to set up small businesses and to take other steps that will have long-term impact. In parallel, we are still providing emergency aid for displaced people and for people suffering the effects of acute food insecurity, floods or localized extreme drought conditions.” —Flood prevention work In the Hiiran region of Somalia, where floods occur annually, people suffer frequent losses during torrential rains. “After the floods, many people lost their livelihood,” said Daud Osman Shiil. “Some opted to do a little bit of farming and sell charcoal. I work a small farm where I grow some maize, especially during the rainy season. But we cannot farm during the dry spell.” Since January in areas such as Lower Juba, Bakool, Sanaag, Sool, Bari and Galgadud, 78,000 people displaced by floods have been given household essentials, such as clothes, cooking utensils, shelter materials and hygiene items, to improve their living conditions. Additionally, almost 80,000 people affected by flooding, drought or armed conflict have been given food rations that help meet their basic nutritional requirements.

In addition to taking emergency action in response to flood disasters, the ICRC makes a significant effort each year in cooperation with local communities to prevent flooding, and the suffering it causes, from occurring. Since January, for example, the ICRC has repaired dykes along the Shabelle River and reinforced riverbanks in Hiraan, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Gedo, Bay, Bakool and south Galgaduud. These activities have protected the agricultural land of more than 33,500 people in 18 communities from floods. The work was carried out by some 5,000 landless or otherwise needy people who earned enough to cover the cost of basic food for at least one month. They also upgraded 96 kilometres of irrigation canals and more than 73,000 cubic metres of rainwater catchments. These improvements increased the quantity of water available for farm irrigation and household use for around 343,500 people.

Agricultural inputs and vaccinations in rural areas Since January, 246,000 farmers in Hiraan, Lower Shabelle, Middle Shabelle, Lower Juba, Gedo, Galgadud, Mudug and Puntland have been given agricultural inputs, including staple and vegetable seed, manual tools and irrigation pumps, to put their means of earning a living on a firm footing.

In cooperation with the departments of animal health in Puntland and Somaliland, the ICRC treated almost 308,000 animals for parasites and major infectious diseases, so that the livestock that more than 16,700 herders depend on to earn a living would be protected.

In addition, over 91,000 farmers and herders in the Middle Juba, Lower Juba and Gedo regions had their animals treated and protected from the biting insects that pose the greatest danger when floods occur.

Grants and vocational training in urban areas In Mogadishu and neighbouring areas of Lower Shabelle, over 2,600 needy people, including socially marginalized individuals and members of households headed by women, have been given grants and vocational training. The beneficiaries have acquired skills enabling them to seek employment or start businesses.

“While emergency needs in Somalia remain substantial, it is important to look beyond relief,” said Mr Vial. “We must see to it that people recover and restore their dignity through the usual means of making a living.” WAM/MMYS