Funding desperately needed to avert humanitarian catastrophe

A complete and utter disaster on an apocalyptic scale is destined to occur in Afder, the Somali region in the south east of Ethiopia.

According to recent reports from the United Nations before the year is out some 10.5 million people will not have regular access to safe drinking water, 8.5 million people will require emergency food assistance and 376,000 children will become severely acutely malnourished.

Tensions are rising as the competition for resources, such as water, becomes more acute. Islamic Relief is delivering water supplies to the region using water tanker trucks, which is a last resort and unsustainable in the long term.

David Crawford, Head of Islamic Relief Worldwide’s humanitarian department recently came back from the region.

“Travelling around that part of Ethiopia is like being on an apocalyptic movie set such as Mad Max. Swirling dust storms along with rotting animals has led to there being an overriding stench of death. The situation is desperate with a need for clean water and sanitation to help stem the spread of water borne diseases such as acute watery diarrhoea.

“Islamic Relief is working closely with government-led health centres – supplying vaccinations, medicines and training staff in patient assessments and referrals. We are also providing outreach medical services to the mothers and children who are unable to make it to the centres. We are operating in remote parts of the Somali region with an entirely local team, who communicate closely with community members to find out their needs.

“In addition to water, food and medicine, people have asked for cash so they can then choose whether or not they spend it on shelter or assets to rebuild their livelihoods. This allows them to lead their lives with as much dignity and self-respect as is possible in these circumstances.”