What a difference a jerry can makes

Emergencies article written on the 18 Jul 2012

Medina washes clothes outside her makeshift shelter at the camp. Photo: HIJRA

A year after famine was declared in Somalia, a quarter of the country’s population are still surviving on humanitarian aid. While there’s been considerable improvement since last year, with the number of people needing assistance down from 3.7 million to 2.5 million, ongoing conflict and poor rains are making it difficult for people to fully recover.

This story from our Somali partner HIJRA is an encouraging sign that, slowly and surely, things are getting better — and will continue to do so if the international community continues to support Somalia through these challenging times.

No more dirty water

“I [was] fetching water from a nearby shallow well, by using leaky plastic packets,” Medina, a displaced mother of two, explains. “I used to lose more than half of the water in the packet en route to coming back home.”

A child at the camp sits on a jerry can supplied by Oxfam. Photo: HIJRA

A child at the camp sits on a jerry can supplied by Oxfam. Photo: HIJRA

Medina and her family currently live in a squalid camp for displaced persons in Mogadishu’s Boondheere District, on land that was formerly Somalia’s Interior Ministry. Medina’s family has been living here for the past six months, after fleeing their home in the Afgooye Corridor, the scene of recent fighting.

Being displaced and living in unsanitary conditions, Medina found it a challenge to get hold of drinkable water stored in a clean container. As a result, the health of her children was at risk from waterborne diseases, which are widespread in the Somali capital.
But thanks to the partnership between Oxfam and the Somali organization HIJRA, Medina and thousands of other displaced Somalis have now received brand new jerry cans.

“I can now fetch water and bring it to my shelter without spilling a drop on the way,” a delighted Medina says. “Most of the IDPs in this camp were facing difficulties in getting containers to fetch and store water, but now they are feeling more comfortable after getting new jerry cans.”

With funding and support from Oxfam, HIJRA has been helping thousands of displaced families who have returned to Mogadishu by supplying them with basic aid packages. As well as jerry cans, these packs include soap as part of the effort to provide sanitation services to displaced communities. More than 25,000 jerry cans have been distributed to displaced Somali families this year.

In addition to distributing jerry cans and other hygiene items, Oxfam has been supporting HIJRA to supply clean water to thousands of displaced families throughout Mogadishu. And as more people are displaced by the conflict and food crisis in Somalia, Oxfam and HIJRA will continue to support them through their time of need.

Find out more

Read the blog post, “A day out at Mogadishu beach
Read more about the East Africa food crisis