(ERGO) – The worst of the innumerable hardships facing 60-year-old grandmother Salado Mohamed Hirabe, who has 15 children in her care, is the lack of toilets in the internal displacement camp they have settled in on the outskirts of the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
“As adults, we go into the bushes and hide our faces in embarrassment,” Salado told Radio Ergo reporters, who visited Barwaqo IDP camp in Deynile district to investigate conditions.
Salado described the situation as a daily torment.
“The children have to go defecating all over the camp, as you can see. This is not hygienic,” she said, adding: “We kindly request the aid agencies to help us with latrines, as well as other assistance like food and shelter.”
There are nearly 800 families living in Barwaqo, Horyal and Awdal IDP camps in Deynile suffering the same indignities due to a lack of toilets.
Binti Nur Haji, a mother of six, told Radio Ergo they arrived in Barwaqo in early August after fleeing from their village of Aytiri in Afgoye district due to the flooding of the river Shabelle in April.
They share a single latrine with more than 200 families in the camp.
“The children go out into the field and sometimes we dig holes near the camp for them to defecate, while adults go in line for just one latrine,” Binti said. “It is difficult to wait in a long line when you really need to use the toilet.”
In Horyal camp, where 48 displaced families comprising mostly women and children live, there is no latrine at all. Most of the residents are recent arrivals from Afgoye.
Isaq Adan Mohamed, a father of eight, fled conflict and floods in Lower Shabelle. He now lives in Awdal IDP, which houses 240 families sharing two latrines. However, both latrines recently filled up after the heavy rains, leaving the bush or open space as the only option.
“I fear we may soon come down with diarrhoea and other illnesses if we don’t get latrines,” Isaq commented.
Dr Abdullahi Osman Naji, a pediatrician at Ga’al health clinic in Mogadishu, emphasised the need for clean toilets to prevent the spread of communicable diseases in the overcrowded IDP camps.
“Stomach and intestine illnesses, diarrhoea, vomiting, and other illnesses which are especially dangerous for children, causing lack of appetite and malnutrition, can quickly spread in this kind of situation,” he said.
In addition to lack of latrines, the IDP families in Deynile have also complained of lack of clean water and food.