MOGADISHU (HAN) February 2, 2016 – Public Diplomacy and Regional Stability Initiatives News. MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Can you imagine walking 12 kilometres to get a drink of water?
That’s the scenario some people are facing in drought stricken Somalia. In some parts of the country it hasn’t rained for three years and the livestock have all but disappeared. They’ve either died or been sold.
The situation is worse for people – malnourishment rates are soaring. Africa correspondent Martin Cuddihy has been to the region and this is the second of his special reports.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: During the dry season riverbeds in Somaliland become roads. Sometimes these waterways only run for a few hours in a year.
Along the way donkeys and camels carrying plastic drums are being driven to shallow wells dug in the riverbeds. They will carry the precious water back to villages and communities.
FATIMA MUMIN (translated): We can walk to get water but there might be no food, we can’t sell or milk the animals if they have no food.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: Fatima Mumin is at the well filling a shallow dish for donkeys to drink from.
FATIMA MUMIN (translated): We used to eat on a daily basis, three times a day, now that there is no rain there is nothing to eat.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: The horn of Africa is now in the grip of a major malnourishment crisis. In Ethiopia and Somalia alone close to 20 million people will need help getting enough to eat this year.
Some $US2.2 billion are needed. Charities are doing what they can but they’re spread thin.
Save the Children runs mobile health clinics where children are screened. Under the shade of an acacia tree the team gets to work.
Mothers bring in their children. Heights and weights are recorded as is the circumference of the upper arm. One four year old girl is just 11 kilograms. That’s the same weight as a healthy two year old. The girl’s mother, Kafiya Adan Waberi says she has no money.
KAFIYA ADAN WABERI (translated): We cannot get any help because we are not close to the city. We have walk a long distance to get any kind of help and it is so little.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: At another clinic a young boy takes off his shirt. He’s so thin you can see the ribs through the muscles of his chest.
The charity’s Mukhtar Muhumed Hassan wants people to realise just how serious the hunger crisis is.
MUKHTAR MUHUMED: So if the situation continues like this we are not thinking of things to be improving unless we do some programs to at maybe least restock and buy animals for the families, you know, things like that.
But if the situation continues like this it’s going to be a disaster, yeah.
MARTIN CUDDIHY: The charity has increased the classification of the disaster’s seriousness to its highest level, on par with the war in Syria.