Families left in the cold as houses in Kismayo housing project collapse

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(ERGO) – At least 47 people have been homeless after their houses in a donor-funded housing scheme in southern Somalia’s port city of Kismayo collapsed.

Muslima Ali Adan has been sleeping in a shanty since 8 July, after her house in Kismayo’s Madina neighbourhood of Kismayo collapsed on her and her five children.

Her daughter, aged 11, was admitted to Kismayo district hospital after sustaining back injuries. She spent six days in the hospital, where treatment was free but she had to buy medicines.

Muslima told Radio Ergo that her house had been developing cracks for months. They informed the camp leader, who reported to the aid agencies involved in the housing project.

“The cracks started some months back with the door and windows gradually falling apart. Then came a night when the whole structure caved in, injuring my daughter,” Muslima said.

“Since then been we have living in this makeshift hut made of sticks and cartons.”

Muslima, who arrived in Kismayo in 2011 after her livestock died in the drought, said a well-wisher living nearby had promised to buy iron sheets and wood for her to build a single room.

“We still need help, apart from that pledge I have nothing else. I sleep in this hut,” she said.

Muslima was among the beneficiaries of a housing project for displaced families implemented by aid agencies in 2016 inMidnimo and Madina neighbourhoods.

Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC)is one of the agencies involved in the housing project. NRC built 750 of the 950 houses in Madina.

Abdullahi Omar Kaynan, head of NRC in Jubbaland, explained that the houseswere meant to be temporary or transitional structures, pending the acquisition of title deeds for the land by the authorities to enable the construction of permanent houses.

“During the construction of these houses, the cost of each house was $950 and the families were informed that the houses were not permanent,” Abdullahi said.

Osman KalilOkash, the chairperson of Midnimo, said that 37 houses had collapsed and that others were looking precarious.

“About 3,000 families live here. We have recorded another one hundred houses which have already developed cracks and are about to collapse, but these people have nowhere else to go,” he said.

The chairman said the houses did not have strong stone foundations and had started developing cracks almost immediately after they were built due to the lack of adequate cement used in the concrete

Repair work is being undertaken on the damaged houses. Meanwhile, however, residents like Amina KowsowKalil, 17, has had to seek shelter with her siblings at a relative’s home in the city.

Their house in Midnimo collapsed in July. “One of the walls of the house collapsed at night but luckily we were not hurt,” Amina said.

She told Radio Ergo that her father, who earns a living with a donkey cart, does make enough money to rebuild the house. Their mother died last year.

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