Bishop John Noonan has asked parishes to participate in a special collection the weekend of August 27, 28 to assist with relief for the Horn of Africa through Catholic Relief Services
As the food crisis across the Horn of Africa is intensifying, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) will help thousands of Somali refugees in northeast Kenya by providing critical services in the soon-to-be opened Kambioos extension to the Dadaab refugee camp.
CRS is making a five-year commitment to work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to provide 25,000 people with water and sanitation infrastructure in Kambioos, while also aiding the surrounding communities affected by the influx of refugees.
“The vast majority of refugees are suffering from malnutrition, poor sanitation facilities, and live in crowded conditions with a lack of appropriate shelter,” said PM Jose, CRS’ Kenya country representative. “Getting life-saving assistance to the new arrivals is critical, but as we help refugees, we must not forget the impact that these arrivals will have on the host communities surrounding the camps.”
The recent drought in East Africa, coupled with insecurity in south central Somalia, has drastically increased the number of Somali refugees coming into the Dadaab camps. Built to accommodate 90,000 people 20 years ago, the camps have now swelled to 400,000, with as many as 1,500 people arriving daily. The UNHCR estimates that in total an additional 160,000 Somali refugees will arrive at the Dadaab camp in the next 5-6 months.
Currently, overcrowded conditions in Dadaab have over-burdened existing facilities and pose a serious public health risk. Outbreaks of measles and cholera have been reported, and access to safe water and hygiene facilities is critical in helping to stave off the spread of disease. The CRS-built latrines and hand-washing stations will play a critical public health role in Kambioos. CRS will hire locals from surrounding communities to construct latrines, hand-washing stations and showers to accommodate 25,000 people.
CRS’ commitment includes training solid waste managers, latrine attendants, community mobilizers and water and sanitation service providers.
The dramatic increase in refugees strains existing camp resources and can potentially cause conflict between host communities and refugees, as new refugees spill onto host community land. “The Kenyan host communities see first-hand the assistance that the refugees are receiving: food, medical care and water. This creates a huge problem of perception,” Jose said.
As part of CRS’ strategic plan to assist host communities, CRS will employ locals to construct facilities in Kambioos and thereby infuse much needed money into the local economy. Local residents will be instrumental in helping CRS to construct 1250 latrines, 625 showers, and in implementation of a solid waste removal system.
In addition to providing services at the new camp, CRS will continue its decades-long commitment to Kenya and Ethiopia through programs that address agricultural and water needs. Reports from the field indicate that CRS’ efforts have helped ease the hardship of drought in many communities. In Somalia, CRS is supporting local partners to assist highly vulnerable, displaced families with basic necessities, such as food packages, support to clinics, therapeutic feeding and shelter.
Photo by Laura Sheahen/CRS.