Galcayo, Somalia

Galcayo is a town of 50,000-100,000. It is in a desert and the buildings are made of stones and plaster. The buildings are pastel colored and look particularly pretty at sunset. Families live in one or two rooms. Poorer people live in shelters made of sticks and plastic and tin called 'bushes'. Although a large part of peoples income is spent on food - and most people are thin by western standards - severe malnutrition is relatively rare. In an internal displaced peoples (IDP) camp near here, estimates are that 5% of the children are severely malnourished. We also see malnourished children in the hospital but not in overwhelming numbers. The Somalis are committed to doing there best to take care of the poor in their clan and people making 60 US dollars a month might support 12 other people who are not working. Many things that we take for granted are not here. I have seen no commercially manufactured toys; people get water from wells; most have no electricity or phone; only a few have radios; TV is rare; cars are rare but present. Still most people are not starving and have clothes and shelter. Children play happily and the cheers from soccer games are occasionally heard. Many women own some jewelry and perfumes.