Flooding in Somalia increases risk of malnutrition and disease outbreaks, the United Nations Children’s Fund(UNICEF) warned on Wednesday.
According to the UN, the floods have affected more than 540,000 people, of whom 370,000 have been displaced in Somalia. Many of the displaced are in dire need of clean water, sanitation and hygiene services, safe shelter, health and food supplies.
It added that food insecurity, lack of healthcare and access to safe water and sanitation will result in spikes in malnutrition among Somali children and cause a deadly cycle of fast-spreading waterborne diseases.
Werner Schultink, representative of UNICEF Somalia said an estimated 200,000 children have been affected by heavy flooding in Belet Weyne, Berdale, Baidoa, Jowhar and Mahadaiin, Somalia.
“If we do not act decisively, the impact of these floods will be felt in Somalia long after the water levels recede,” Schultink said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.
Several humanitarian agencies have joined the national response to deliver life-saving supplies to affected families who are living in makeshift camps or worse in the open.
UNICEF said 33,000 hygiene kits are being distributed to enhance access to safe water and prevent waterborne diseases. The supplies will be preemptively dispatched to treat 90,000 people for acute watery diarrhea, noting that nutrition teams are already on the ground to treat children with severe acute malnutrition
The UN agency said child-friendly spaces will be established to provide 1,300 of the most affected children a space to gather, learn and play safely.