Consider: On a typical day a half-million people circulate through mercato, and just before (frequent) feast days maybe two million will come to stock up. Every week, tens of thousands pass through to catch buses bound for every corner of the land.
With a sanitation infrastructure all-but non-existent, mercato's open sewers turn the heart of commerce and transportation in the Horn of Africa into a veritable hotbed of infectious diseases.
From the heavies - hepatitis, HIV, cholera, polio - to tuberculosis, influenza, diarrhea and every seasonal crud, all are incubated in mercato's open sewers and sent rolling down the national arteries, with a stop at every town and trail crossing.
a place to live -
UNICEF's WIBS program local coordinator in his well-appointed modern office.
- and grow up -
Kick Polio Out of Africa, a child vaccination campaign spearheaded in Ethiopia by the World Health Organization and UNICEF, and bankrolled largely by Rotary International.Seen above are images of health workers delving into the heart of a mercato neighborhood to find their subjects - an astonishing number of whom they know by name, family and medical history.
Official statistics, which include only official mercato residents, state that 15 percent of infants and 19 percentof children under five will die, most often from preventable and treatablediseases like tuberculosis and diarrhea. Actual numbers are far higher and can only be estimated, though they are at least in line with national averages - a child mortality rate approaching one in four.
Coffin building is an all-too apparently thriving industry, organized in a broad back street plaza near central mercato.