Kilis Bizim Dergi
Benim Hikayem

WATER IS A MATTER OF LIFE OR DEATH IN SOMALIA


In my life I used to see people having to struggle with the very first need in their life. The most pressing need in their lifetime and it still remains one of the crucial things in their life. If I ask you “what is the most important thing in Somali people’s life?” what would your answer be? Your answer could be food, housing needs, clothes, etc. what I am talking about is only much simpler than that. Of course these people are still struggling with life’s most basic need. The answer is composed of only five letters that you cannot do without it. People in the developed and developing countries have already tackled this problem. Some are being washed away by it like Thailand and to my astonishment some are missing it. What we are talking about is “water!” just as simple as that to say in the mouth but hard to find as material thing in IDP camps in Mogadishu, the capital city of Somalia.

People queue for water even at night. Children have to help their parents to get this pressing need. The picture below shows a long queue which has formed at a camp in Mogadishu.

It is not the strong that only seeks it, but also the elderly and the children alike. I shot these pictures with my mobile phone. I have never been to such camps until I was inspired by IBC (International Blue Crescent relief and Development Foundation). I have never thought a place like Mogadishu will experience water scarcity. I have learnt a lot from these camps.

There are four camps in this area alone with more than 4,000 people living in them. These are Bilkheyr Umbrella, Bulbul Camp, Baraag Camp, and Al-Rahma Umbrella parts of Tarabunka. There is only one tank of water to cater for all of them. This is not sufficient for them. This is noticeably true when the tanker carrying the water comes and the way people struggle for water. Somalia is known with huge underground water deposit, but it lacks the know-how to exploit it. 

The international Organizations, which came to this country as good Samaritans do not exploit this resource from underground but they provide them water for temporary (to only satisfy their thirst temporarily).

Inside one of the camps, you can see the remains of Somalia’s long-run civil war. A tank that was used in the previous war. It is at the front gate of one of the camps, just a few yards from the water tank that IBC has provided for these IDPs. It is a sign for what have devastated the destiny of their life. This sign is telling something for the inhabitants but, unfortunately, they are not adhering to it.
Just a few minutes before IBC officials in Mogadishu came to area as a daily monitoring, the water source was crowded with IDPs queuing for water as shown in the figure below.

The atmosphere changed at once, after a war broke there. Two militias started fighting each other over the control of camps. All the people were now hiding behind the water tank that IBC placed there as you can see.

The jerry cans are now left alone in the queue. It is a matter of live or death now. Either you run from the bullets or you choose to remain in the line.

All sacrificed water for their life and ran away from the bullets. But, astonishingly, a young girl decided to remain in the line. She defied the bullets and the event that was unfolding in the scene as you can see.

The fighting was going on for about eight minutes but she relentlessly remained there while everyone else was gone. I thought she was deaf. “Are you a deaf?” I asked. “No”, she replied. I asked her why she didn’t run away. To my surprise, she said they didn’t have water at home and if they miss a jerry can tonight it would be hard for them. 
This is how life in Somalia is. This incident is only in Mogadishu, the capital city. What about the rural areas. I think life is much harsher than this. The destiny of this people is in their hands, in the hands of their leaders and in the will of God. I will pray Almighty God to make Somali people to reconcile, adhere to one another and make Somalia a prosperous country once again, Amen. 



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