Monday, April 5, 2010


Around 60 per cent of Djibouti’s population are unemployed and many of the residents of Balbala live below the poverty line and have no, or very limited, means of income.  Djibouti, one of the smallest countries in Africa, has a population of approximately one million, with the majority living in and around the capital, including a massive 30 per cent living in Balbala. As one of the poorest countries in the world, 75 per cent of Djiboutians live in relative or extreme poverty. An estimated 200,000 people are migrants, fleeing drought, civil war or persecution from the bordering countries of Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia.

With frequent droughts, Djibouti has limited sources of water and produces very little of the food required to feed its own population, so almost everything is imported at great expense. The economic recession and rising food prices hit Djibouti hard. Although now slightly reduced from the hugely inflated levels of 2008, prices have still not returned to normal.

Unable to save any money each month, many of Balbala’s residents are hugely vulnerable to crises – whether it’s increasing food or water prices, or a sickness in the family and the need to pay for healthcare – so their situation is very precarious.

Surgical staff from the Expeditionary Medical Facility at Camp Lemonnier expanded our outreach to the Hospital of Balbala.  Augmenting medical staff at our host nation medical facilities has been a highlight of our assignment here in Djibouti.  During our visit, I was able to introduce our new EMF team to Balbala.
The construction of the new hospital makes progress in Balbala.

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