Somalia faces major cholera outbreak

Added On April 20, 2017

The effects of an extreme drought in Somalia continues to hit.

With access to clean drinking water dwindling, aid agencies are warning that a devastating outbreak of cholera is beginning to ravage the country.

Six years since famine was declared in parts of south-central Somalia, the country is once again on the brink of catastrophe.

This time the drought is more widespread and has resulted in a chronic shortage of clean water. In some areas, water prices have increased six-fold.

SOUNDBITE (English) MANUEL FONTAINE, Director, Office of Emergency Programmes, UNICEF:
"We have not declared a famine yet but we are very close. Very serious malnutrition, probably more than 200,000 children are going to suffer from severe malnutrition in the country and now we have cholera on top of this. So we really need to pull all our capacities and resources together to stop this."

Cholera is an acute diarrhoeal disease that can kill within hours if left untreated. Malnourished children under five years are especially vulnerable.

SOUNDBITE (Somali) HOWA GALI YUSUF, Mother of Cholera-infected Baby
"We lost all of our livestock because of the drought. Most of our live-stock was goats and, if there is no rain, the goats cannot survive because they cannot graze and there is no water for drinking. We travelled with others who suffered from this drought and we came to the IDP camp. After, we got sick and then we were referred to this hospital."

The United Nations has raised alarm over a major outbreak of cholera in southern Somalia.

SOUNDBITE (Somali) MOHAMMED HASSAN, Father of Cholera-infected Baby:
"When I was in Baidoa, I found out my child had diarrhoea. She drank water and that is the source of the contamination."

UNICEF and partners have scaled up their response to combat the cholera and acute watery diarrhoea crisis by providing an integrated package of nutrition, water, sanitation and emergency health services.

Aid groups are already scrambling to help people suffering from severe drought and mass malnutrition.

SOUNDBITE (Somali) ASMA UFUROW- Somali resident
"We were affected by the drought, we had nothing to eat and our farms were also affected by the drought. On the way, we feared Al Shabaab and hyenas. We were told in Baidoa, there was distribution [of food and water] and that is why we came."

In 2017, UNICEF aims to reach 1.5 million people with access to clean water and over 700,000 Somalis with emergency health care services.