Radio Ergo’s lifesaving broadcasts on how to get treatment for the deadly disease Cholera have had a positive impact on raising awareness in some of the poorest neighbourhoods of the Somali capital Mogadishu.
Radio Ergo aired daily announcements informing listeners about the way Cholera spreads and how to avoid it. From June, the broadcasts included detailed information of the location of free health centres in the Mogadishu district of Wadajir, where the highest number of Cholera cases were being recorded.
The United Nations (UN) reports that there have been close to 1,200 deaths from Cholera in Somalia since the start of the outbreak in January. Most of the deaths were children under the age of five.
Somalia has been in the grip of a harsh drought that has destroyed hundreds of thousands of people’s livestock and crops and left them displaced and destitute. The lack of food and access to safe drinking water made such vulnerable people more susceptible to diseases, including Cholera.
Maryan Hussein Omar, a displaced mother living in an IDP camp in Mogadishu, heard the information she needed on the radio.
“Honestly, I had no clue about the free health centre in Mogadishu – I thought everything had a price tag attached, but I later realized that was not true. I was listening to our camp leader’s radio in Badbado camp. Radio Ergo was on air talking about free health services for the mothers and children. I visited the health centre the next day with my daughter who had diarrhoea. We both received medical attention and my daughter is now getting better.”
Staff at Djibouti health centre in Wadajir said the radio announcements had led to a more than doubling of the numbers of people seeking treatment.
The Cholera outbreak in Somalia has been brought under control and the UN has not reported any deaths from the disease since August.“After Radio Ergo aired the broadcasts in June, we saw 1,000 patients visiting the health centre in each of the following two months. Previously, we used to serve 400 patients in a month. The numbers have risen dramatically and our services are being enjoyed by the people every day,” said Ilyas Abukar Mohamed, a member of the health centre’s management committee.
Lisho Abarone Abdi, a displaced mother of four daughters and five sons, said she was grateful to Radio Ergo for informing her about the existence of a free health centre within reach of her current home.
“I wasn’t aware of any free hospitals as I am a displaced person living in Wadani IDP camp. I joined the camp six months ago when the terrible drought hit Bakool region [in southern Somalia] and I lost my lifeline including 26 goats, nine cows and my farmland. I took my son and daughter who were suffering from diarrhoea to the centre and they gave us good services. I and my children visit this hospital regularly now for checkups.”
Radio Ergo is working to strengthen communication between Somali communities and the humanitarian agencies through the Common Feedback project. As part of this project, Ergo broadcasts lifesaving information using shortwave and FM rebroadcasts across Somalia to support the interventions of the agencies.