Habiba has not had an easy life. And every time the 40-year-old mother of 10 overcomes one hardship, it seems like life is waiting to throw another challenge at her. What would it take to give this courageous woman some relief?
Habiba married when she was 19 years old, but her first husband passed away. Although she remarried, she once again has the responsibility of head of the household.
Habiba is from Somaliland. Due to a prolonged dry period in the area where she was living with her family, they found themselves forced to move. “During the drought, we lost most of our animals because of lack of fodder,” she says. “We were left with just a few goats and camels. That is when we moved to Sheed-Dheer so that we could get humanitarian assistance.
Sheed Dheer had good water systems including boreholes, shallow wells and water kiosks, among other things. In addition, aid agencies were providing extra support to help families survive. Things were looking up for Habiba. But not for long.
Tropical storm Sagar hit the region in May 2018. The infrastructure of Sheed Dheer and the surrounding district was totally destroyed, with schools, health facilities and homes severely damaged and unusable. The wind and the seawater damaged most of the clean water sources, so households were forced to use contaminated water. There was a huge risk of the spread of diseases.
Habiba says, “we were good for a while but when the cyclone came, we were left with nothing. We had no food, not even clean water. This was very difficult times for us. We were drinking dirty water because we had no choice. A lot of people and our children got sick with diarrhea.”
In addition, women and girls who walked long distances in search of clean water sources elsewhere exposed themselves to risks including physical and sexual violence.
Habiba was back to a bad place.
The Humanitarian Coalition, through its member organization Save the Children, responded to the crisis in Sheed Dheer by reconstructing the destroyed water systems, kiosks and latrines to ensure that families like Habiba’s would have access to clean water.
Clean water, and a reason to feel good again.
“Thank God Save the Children came to rescue us early enough,” she says. “They brought trucks with clean water and they restored the water sources. We are so grateful for all those who contributed to restore our water supply and give us clean water.”
For now at least, relief has come.