Getting back on Track

Friday 18 February 2022

Cowser doing her chores within the Schools compound she now resides in with her family.

Cowser(15) fled her home town Garba Isse with her family earlier last year. Her older brother and sister and her parents sought to escape ethnic violence in areas bordering Somali and Afar Regions. The family barely escaped with their lives as her brother lost his in a crossfire during the fight. Cowser and her family live in a temporary camp for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) in Muli town of the Somali Region alongside 1,250 IDPs.

The camp predominantly comprises women and unaccompanied minors. It consists of small classrooms that are cramped with many occupants. Cowser and her family live in these classrooms without fulfilling their basic needs while sustaining their lives with food assistance provided by the government and other agencies.

Cowser's story in her own words (quotes)

My name is Cowser, and I am 15 years old. About three months ago, we lost all our belongings, our home, and our means to livelihood due to the heavy fighting that broke out in our town, Garba Isse. Garba Isse is found within a location bordering the Afar Region. My family and I live in temporary camps prepared for Internally Displaced People (IDP) in Muli town in a small classroom.

I used to go to Buhbere elementary and Junior high school back in my hometown. I was in the eleventh grade. However, the conflict destroyed our school, and I was forced to drop out.

After losing everything we had in this conflict, we came here with nothing but the clothes on our backs. We are living in a shelter where basic human needs are barely met. Up to 50 people live in  cramped room. We always worry that a disease like the coronavirus could quickly spread here in the camp and infect us all at any moment. There are no clear-cut words under which I can explain this conflict's repercussion on us.

Cowser with her mother

Now, the government’s and Save the Children's support somehow mitigate our problem  of food, water, sanitation, and other basic needs. Save the Children had provided us with a WASH kit containing a bucket, a water container Jerrican, and a washing dish. They have also provided us with body and laundry soap which has helped us clean our bodies and wash our clothes to maintain our personal hygiene. Save the Children also went an extra step by providing us women with a dignity kit. Apart from the Wash supplies that help keep our hygiene, the dignity kit had combs, nail cutters, and sanitary pads suited for women.

Sanitary pads posed a problem for women at the camp. Before Save the Children gave us these sanitary pads, we had to use ordinary household clothes for that purpose. As we had to wash these clothes post their usage, the hygienic quality was deficient and unhealthy during the menstrual cycle. We no longer have to worry about that issue, and I'm very thankful for that.

Now our biggest problem here is the lack of adequate and proper shelter. Since schools are reopening for the new term, we don't have anywhere to go. I hope the government and other supporters provide us with a proper and sustainable shelter.

On behalf of my community and myself, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Save the Children and the local government for their support. I also hope that they will continue supporting us in the future until our situation improves.

Project background

On 24th July 2021, the escalation of inter-communal conflict in areas bordering Somali and Afar regions caused the displacement of 4,923 households (approx. 32,000 individuals). The majority of whom are women and children. The IDPs have temporarily settled in five different locations across four woredas of the Sitti zone. So far, regional Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Bureau has reached 1,460 IDPs through the food supply and ESNFI and WASH support. An estimated 32,000 displaced individuals are currently hosted by local communities (their clans), relatives, or families. Those who do not have the option to move to other places have remained in IDP sites in the schools and administrative offices.

In August 2021, through its SWAN and Pull Fund, Save the Children launched a project that aims to support conflict-induced IDPs currently sheltered in five different locations across the Sitti Zone of the Somali Region. Through these projects, Save the Children provided unconditional cash support for food and ESNFI to this conflict-affected community in these areas. Save the Children has also distributed WASH and dignity kits to the conflict-induced IDPs, managing to reach 1,530 community members in the Somali region's Muli, Afdem, Erer and Biki target districts.