Rebuilding schools and communities in tsunami-affected Somalia

NEW YORK, USA, December 2006 - Two years after the Indian Ocean tsunami hit the northeastern coastline of Somalia, life is beginning to return to normal. UNICEF and its partners have made a transition from emergency relief to rehabilitation - working to increase school enrolment, reconstruct health facilities and provide safe drinking water.

The Puntland coastline was the hardest hit area of Somalia during the tsunami, with nearly 300 casualties. In the fishing village of Hafun on the tip of the coast, over 4,000 people were displaced.

UNICEF has helped children overcome the psychological impact of the tsunami by training over 300 social service providers in psychosocial counselling this year. They are now assisting children with trauma recovery, the loss of parents and displacement from their homes by helping them return to their everyday activities, including school attendance, chores and play.

Over 150 teachers, along with many health workers and child protection advocates, have been trained in this child-centred approach. The training has benefited over 2,700 children so far.

Schools have also reached out beyond their enrolled students with an informal education programme developed for 350 out-of-school adolescents.

Restoring livelihoods

In Hafun, UNICEF facilitated the formation of two youth groups, whose members received training on leadership and organizational skills to ensure that young voices are heard in decision-making on the tsunami recovery process.

The centrepiece of UNICEF's intervention in Hafun has been the ongoing restoration and expansion of the town's water system. To date, over 30 wells ruined by saline intrusion or otherwise damaged by the tsunami have been rehabilitated, providing clean water for 13,000 people and their livestock.

UNICEF has also rehabilitated 13 primary health care facilities in Somalia this year, providing some 40,000 people with improved access to basic health services. But an upsurge in political tension in the country has limited UNICEF's ability to implement and monitor other recovery projects, necessitating partnerships with local authorities and non-governmental organizations.

Throughout 2006, UNICEF and its partners have focused their assistance on consolidating the gains made in the earlier rehabilitation phase - in hopes that these changes will bring long-term benefits to the affected communities.