Accessing Services

Displaced people across the cities suffer from limited access to services. ‘Public’ services are largely non-existent and basic needs (such as water) generally require payment. Water collection from tanks or wells is a hard, physical daily task carried out by women, often with the help of children. Participants often spoke about the necessity of skipping meals, as well as the need to ask for credit from shopkeepers or support from neighbours in order to obtain food. Sanitation in most camps is rudimentary at best, and due to absence of public garbage collection, waste is often openly dumped in or near to the camps.

Displaced people often have some limited access to healthcare facilities, usually provided by local or international humanitarian agencies. Health care focuses on maternal and child health, and MCH centres often become hubs for general healthcare provision. Such services are limited however, and medication or more advanced treatment usually requires payment to private healthcare providers.

Participants highlighted the lack of educational facilities for their children as major problem. Traditional dugsi (Qur’anic schools) are in operation in the camps and provide the bulk of education. They charge modest fees per child, which many parents nonetheless struggle to afford. Very few of the interviewees’ children were able to access state primary, middle or high schools – either because they could not afford the fees or because such schools were not located nearby. Many families’ incomes directly or indirectly depend on child labour (shoe shining or child care) and thus prevented children from receiving education, even where fees were low or officially non-existent (like in Somaliland). In most cases both parents struggle to get casual labour, and small children are often left in the care of older children, or elderly neighbours in the camp.