In the eye of the storm

How WFP helped families in Djibouti affected by Cyclone Sagar

Miguel Tomas
Jun 12, 2018 · 3 min read
A WFP field monitor scans the bar-codes to check the vouchers validity. Photo: WFP/Miguel Tomas

Tropical Cyclone Sagar passed through Djibouti and made landfall in Somalia on the 19–20 May.

Sagar left a trail of widespread flooding, destruction of infrastructure, homes and livelihoods. An estimated 50,000 people were affected, the majority were vulnerable households living in extreme poverty.

Feyza Abdillahi, 35 years old was one of them. She lives with her husband Mohamed, and their seven children in Boulaos, one of the districts of Djibouti Ville. She lost everything that night when the storm battered the city and flooded her home.

“The water came at the level of my knees, we tried to take it out with buckets and pots but the level continued to rise,” says Feyza. “At the moment, we only have one mattress left for 10 people, we had to throw everything away, even the kitchen utensils and our stock of food. The water level was so high in the streets that firefighters could not access our home. We were left on our own,” added Feyza.

Assessing the needs

An initial rapid assessment was undertaken with the Secrétariat d’Etat aux Affaires Sociales (SEAS), to assess the immediate needs of those affected by the cyclone, with help from community volunteers who conducted a door to door assessment in the most affected areas. That assessment considered the level of damages that the families had without any reference to their legal status, to ensure refugees and asylum seekers living in the city were also helped.

The immediate concerns were for adequate shelter and Non- Food Items (NFIs), food security, health and access to safe sanitation. An estimated 12,500 people were found to have had their homes either damaged or completely destroyed.

On 28 May, under the coordination of the Government, WFP launched a voucher programme for food and non-food items joining forces with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and UNICEF, targeting 2,000 vulnerable affected households (approx. 10 000 people), with 675 households reached with the vouchers on the first day.

At the social help-desks people received three kinds of vouchers to buy food (10,000 DJF per household), non-food items (18,000 DJF per household) and habitation items such as blanket, bed sheets, plastic carpet, broom and mattresses at selected retailers.

The vouchers can be used to buy a variety of goods at registered shops. The shop owners are told when the vouchers have been given out so they can ensure enough stocks are in place. WFP/Miguel Tomas

WFP was able to start the voucher program within 48 hours of establishing the needs due to an existing food assistance project helping 4,000 families via mobile e-vouchers as part of its social protection-related activities in Djibouti. In addition, the fast response to the floods was possible due to the strong collaboration WFP has with other United Nations agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) such as OCHA, UNICEF and NRC.

Feyza and her family were part of the emergency voucher program. Thanks to these vouchers, Feyza has bought food for herself and her family, as well as first necessities that will allow her to restore her house. Without this help they would never have been able to cover their needs and replace the items lost due to the storm as Mohamed only earns a minimal daily wage.

“The most important thing for me today is to get my house back in a decent state and my family to eat every day. With these vouchers, we start our recovery” concluded Feyza.

World Food Programme Insight

Insight by The World Food Programme

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