IOM Provides Yemen Returnees in Somalia with Access to Safe and Clean Water

By International Office of Migration (IOM)

Since 27 March 2015, 30,356 individuals (88 per cent Somali returnees, 11 per cent Yemenis and 1 per cent migrants) have arrived in Somalia, fleeing from the continued deterioration of the humanitarian situation and the violence in Yemen. The latest arrivals were on 2 January 2016 when two boats arrived in Bossaso (Puntland) and Berbera (Somaliland) respectively, with 124 and 27 passengers on board.

To date, IOM Somalia has assisted 8,791 arrivals with onward transportation assistance from the reception centres at the ports of Bossaso (Puntland) and Berbera (Somaliland) to their areas of origin.

As the returnees arrive at their destinations, host communities often do not have the absorption capacity to receive new arrivals as most communities and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia already endure shortages of resources and basic services.

Overall access to drinking water in Somalia is limited, with only 30 per cent of Somalis having access to safe and clean water. The main water sources in Somalia are ground water and the two rivers, Shabelle and Juba. A recent survey conducted by UNICEF and Ministry of Health shows that 77 per cent of Somalis use untreated water; which increases the risk of waterborne diseases.

To help alleviate the hardships faced by the returnees, particularly their vulnerability and difficulty to access basic services including water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); Japan-based Poly-Glu Social Business Co., Ltd., a long-term partner of IOM Somalia's public-private partnership initiative, has donated one ton of their water treatment product for the Yemen returnees, IDPs and their host communities to save lives and avoid potential conflicts.

A ton of Poly-Glu flocculation agent can clean 10,000 tons of water, which is equivalent to the daily drinking water requirement for almost 37,000 people for three full months according to the global Sphere Standards.

Faduma, a mother of two children in her 30s returned from Yemen in May last year, said: β€œI lived in Sana'a for about six years where I married and gave birth, while working as a housemaid. The life was good, but when civil war started everything changed. If I can get clean water, I can stay healthy. And if I can stay healthy, then I have the energy to try and pick up the pieces of my life.”

Since the donation, returnees in Sigalow, Beletweyne can access safe and clean water treated with Poly-Glu from water points built by IOM and its partner WARDI.

Omar Aden, the Mayor of Beletweyne town which received 450 households (estimated 2,700 individuals) from Yemen, described the conditions of the returnees as 'very vulnerable'.

Kanetoshi Oda, the Chief Executive Officer of Nippon Poly-Glu Co., Ltd., said: β€œIt is our extreme pride and pleasure supporting and working together with IOM and the Japanese Government to provide safe and clean water to displaced persons, using Japanese technologies.”

While some arrivals continue their journey to major cities seeking a better life and safer place to live, IOM is providing humanitarian assistance for the returnees in collaboration with UN agencies and NGOs which includes basic services such as WASH and health at reception centers and in return locations, providing onward transportations, and supporting the reintegration into the host communities in the areas of return.