Migrants and mobile populations are among the most high-risk groups for communicable diseases as they often reside in informal settlements characterized by poor infrastructure, overcrowding, lack of sanitation facilities and inadequate access to safe water. This lack or in some cases total absence of clean and safe water is the major factor contributing to the mortality of vulnerable IDPs , particularly children under the age of five in Somalia.
In communities with little or no sanitation coverage, open defecation is commonly practiced. Such practices contribute to environmental contamination and increase the risk of water-borne disease outbreaks as illustrated during the 2008/09 national cholera outbreak. Vulnerable populations such as Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and their affected host communities bear the burden of the breakdown of public health services and referral mechanisms.
IOM’s clean water supply and cholera prevention project, which began in January 2012, contributes significantly to improving environmental health conditions of IDPs and their host communities in Somalia, by using an innovative Japanese water treatment flocculant technology - PGα21Ca® - commonly known as Poly-Glu, which is patented by the Nippon Poly-Glu Company Limited (NPG), based in Osaka, Japan. Poly-Glu is a cost-effective, time-saving, simple to use and handle, environmentally-friendly, and most importantly, less toxic than other chemicals commonly being used for water purification.
The project consists of several key activities including baseline and post-intervention surveys, capacity building for Somali authorities and partners in water treatment and environmental health, provision of safe and clean water using Poly-Glu to IDP and host communities as well as social mobilization/awareness-raising advocacy activities through community empowerment on environmental health and hygiene promotion for improved case reporting systems.
IOM in partnership with its Somali NGO implementing partners has provided clean and safe water using Poly-Glu and chlorination and is providing an average of 7.5 litres per day to a total of 38,356 IDPs and host community members.