Tuesday December 5, 2023
(ERGO) – Omar Hassan Yusuf decided his family of small children were better off staying in their house in Tawakal camp in Mogadishu’s Hodan district even though it is awash with smelly flood water.
For the past two weeks he has been wading through deep water to get to and from his house but says he does not know where else they could go.
A father of six, he earns a living for his family using his handcart, making 10,000 Somali shillings (about half a dollar) per job. Since 5 November when flash floods hit the camp in the notorious swampy Siigaale area of the city, he has been at home watching over his family and their belongings.
His wife, paralysed in both legs, has been unable to help the children ages two to eight with so much water around both inside and outside the house. Most of their neighbours evacuated the flooded camp, so she has nobody else to assist.
“We are lucky to get one meal a day; we only eat at night. In the morning if we drink one cup of tea there is nothing else for the day. If we get anything else we keep it for the children,” Omar said.
“The reason why I couldn’t leave is because my life depends on being here because I earn a living from the market. If I don’t get an income I can always come back to my neighbours who are also IDPs and tell them my children are hungry, and they help us. If we moved who would we be able to depend on?” he explained.
Omar was displaced by conflict in Marka, Lower Shabelle, in 2017 and says this is the worst flooding he has seen in the seven years hey have lived in Mogadishu.
His family is among 70 other IDP families who have remained in Tawakal camp. Sewage pipes have broken and poured filthy water into the floods and although he is aware of the health risks he still feels staying is the best option.
“Now there is water all in my house. We began trying to get the water out of the house in the morning and we are still doing it now. We are in hardship, the water has cut us off and we are surrounded by it,” he said.
About 400 families evacuated from their houses in Siigaale area after hearing the warnings of imminent heavy downpours. They were helped by volunteer youths to move away from the low-lying camps.
However, some of these families are now facing food shortage and have no shelter.
Madino Diriye Hassan, a single mother of four children, moved from Alle-Amin camp in Hodan in October after hearing warning messages. But she and her children are now stuck in Danyar camp in Deynile district without any clean water or shelter.
As the downpours continued, a neighbour in Danyar told her to move in with them. The flimsy house made of plastic and cloth was destroyed as floods struck again.
“We don’t have a house, my children are facing cold, hardship and hunger. We have to get water from a place very far from here. At night we sleep outside as the house was destroyed, we don’t have plastic sheeting or iron-sheets. If you need anything you will have to buy it,” she said.
A jerrycan of water at taps outside the camp costs 1,000 shillings. Madino said they get one meal a day from helpful neighbours in the new camp.
Madino is no stranger to flooding, as she moved with her children to Mogadishu from Afgoye in 2021 after river floods washed away her house and shop. She lost her husband in a mine explosion in Shalanbood in Lower Shabelle in 2020.
“We are worried and stressed. If it starts raining we don’t have shelter, we don’t have a place to store our clothes, we were using sacks to cover our clothes and they too have become wet. If the rain continues like this it could kill us,” said Madino.
Siigaale area camp leader, Sidow Nur, said whenever there was heavy rainfall in Mogadishu water flowed from higher ground including Hodan, Howlwadag and Wabari districts and collected in Siigaale, where almost 1,000 IDP families have been living.
He noted that the floods had affected 26 camps in Siigaale. Some had moved out, but around 600 people had remained put in their flooded camps, having nowhere else to go and fearing losing whatever they had.
“The camp shelters were made of plastic bags and they have been destroyed. As you can see the people have been affected by the floods and many families are living together, so that is our problem and we pray that God alleviates it,” he said.