Receiving a scoop of maize meal at Wajadir feeding centre in Mogadishu (Copyright: WFP/David Orr)
A visit to a centre where hot meals are served in Mogadishu reveals that, while many people displaced from the areas of crisis in the south are staying put for the moment, a few are thinking of returning to their home areas or have already gone. Tens of thousands of residents and displaced people receive WFP food cooked at these centres every day.
MOGADISHU -- Hawa Adan, from southern Somalia’s Bay region, is one of hundreds of people who line up for a hot meal at the Waaberi feeding site in Mogadishu every day. Ask her what brought her family to the capital and she replies, “drought and hunger”. For the last three months, they have been living in a camp for displaced people in the city.
The area from which they come was, from July until mid-November, classified as part of southern Somalia’s famine zone by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit which monitors food security in Somalia. So severe is the food deficit situation there at the time of writing that Bay remains in a state of emergency.
Daily hot meals
While Mogadishu presents its own challenges, at least it offers the possibility of a daily hot meal. The World Food Programme estimates that in October more than 100,000 displaced people and needy residents received hot meals from one of its 22 feeding centres dotted around the city.
“We’d like to go back home”, says Hawa. “But how would we survive, what would we eat? We lost our animals and my husband is getting too old to spend long days on the land”.
In a whisper, she says that the security situation in the south is also a factor. She is particularly worried that, if they were to return home, her son might be conscripted into a militia to fight.
Living in a camp
Fadumo Hasan is another woman at Waaberi driven out of Bay region some months back and now finds herself living in a camp. Will she and her family return?
“We can’t”, she replies. “We’ve lost our animals. We’ve heard there’s still no food to eat. We couldn’t survive without help…so we’ll stay here for now”.
As she talks, the lines of beneficiaries keep forming in front of the huge pots of maize meal that were cooked earlier over open fires in the compound. Each person receives scoops of this staple from the serving women in green aprons – employees of SAACID, who implement this hot meals programme. They then move on to get portions of bean stew.
Of the thousands of displaced people in Mogadishu, many prefer to remain where they are for now, but others like Habibo Mumin plan to return to their home areas.
“My husband has already gone back to start farming”, she says. “When the rains came, he thought it was time”.
She and the children will follow, she insists. As soon as she has saved enough money from washing clothes to pay for transport, they will leave for Bay region.