“The aid distributed so far has been a drop in the ocean”
One day, while assessing an affected area, I was struck by the sight of a very old woman seeking refuge in a precarious makeshift shelter. Days later, when we returned to provide a tent, it was already too late. We were told she was dead.
The aid distributed so far has been a drop in the ocean. Some families are even sharing the high-energy food supplement known as Plumpy’Nut, which is given to children for the treatment of malnutrition. Others have resorted to drinking rainwater. Many have little protection from the very hot days and the chilly, windy nights.
A second MSF team arrived a week after us. After training staff from the Ministry of Health, they set up mobile clinics in four different areas of the town.
We see a lot of suffering. Children arrive with respiratory tract infections like pneumonia. We are treating many vector-borne diseases, particularly malaria, cases of watery diarrhea, and fevers of unknown origin.
Malnutrition levels were already high before the current crisis, but now the situation has worsened and many severely acute malnourished children are arriving for consultations.
We are concerned about the possible sharp increase of malaria cases and outbreaks of waterborne diseases like cholera. Concerted and coordinated efforts among humanitarian organizations and the local authorities are needed to continue mobilizing assistance and to keep on ensuring that aid reaches the most vulnerable people in time.
It is crucial to quickly improve the poor water and sanitation conditions in Beledweyne and facilitate access to safe drinking water to avoid the spread of diseases.