Three years of drought in the African state of Somaliland has now left it in the grip of a cholera epidemic caused by dwindling and polluted water supplies. International disaster relief agency, ShelterBox, has been distributing water filters and carriers, as well as shelter materials to the nomadic population in Somaliland.
Like much of the Horn of Africa, Somaliland is enduring failing crops, a parched landscape, and now the scourge of cholera as water sources are contaminated by waste and rotting animal carcasses.
But one thing it doesn’t share with its neighbours is conflict – Somaliland is a peaceful agricultural republic. Most of its 4.5 million people make their living driving cattle in a constant search for water and fertile grazing land. Now, with more than half their livestock wiped out by the unprecedented three-year drought, people drink whatever water they can find.
ShelterBox Operations Coordinator, Dave Raybould, has just returned to Somaliland this weekend. He says, ‘This will be ShelterBox’s third deployment to Somaliland in five months, and since we were last there the focus has moved from drought to disease, though the two are interconnected.’
‘The search for water is bringing the nomadic rural dwellers into the towns, where overburdened water sources are becoming a source of cholera.’
Cholera is an entirely treatable disease contracted through polluted and stagnant water, but with some areas reporting 500 cases a day Somaliland’s health resources are overstretched.
‘Among ShelterBox’s aid package is the ‘thirst aid’ water filter, which rapidly makes dirty water safe to drink, a great help in halting the spread of waterborne disease.’
Cholera has not been seen in developed countries for over a century. Without treatment those infected quickly become dehydrated, but the condition can easily be treated using an oral rehydration sachet.
Dave says that ShelterBox has already distributed water filters and water carriers to hundreds of families, and their current visit will discuss a continuing aid program via in-country partners ActionAid. The familiar green ShelterBox being used in Somaliland contains the water kit, plus tarpaulins, tools, cooking utensils, solar lights, mosquito nets, blankets and groundsheets.
‘The standard ShelterBox dome tent is not needed in Somaliland as their traditional nomadic dwellings are made from found and recycled materials stretched over tree branch frames. So the tarpaulins we supply add to the resilience of these conventional shelters.’
ShelterBox is pleased to report that families who have already received its aid have found all of the contents instantly useful and practical.
Dave adds, ‘Somaliland was already struggling with drought and food insecurity, and the outbreak of cholera is an added blow. We will do all we can to help them with their thirst, with the battle against disease, and with their need for shelter.’
Notes to Editors
- See ShelterBox aid arriving in Somaliland on our Youtube channel
- Photos above are free to use in the context of this press release © ShelterBox / ActionAid
- There are now almost 85 million people around the world forced from their homes due to natural disasters or conflict, the greatest number ever before in human history. ShelterBox is an international disaster relief charity, and a world authority on providing innovative, rapid and practical shelter to families in some of the world’s hardest-to-reach places and most devastated disaster zones. Since its start in 2000 it’s helped more than one million people worldwide rebuild their lives, and it now has affiliate ShelterBox operations across Europe, Africa, the Americas and Asia.