Severe Somalia drought leaves children in crisis

Entire villages have lost their crops and livestock, forcing families to leave their homes in search of food and water. Asha, a young widow, and her four children were forced to leave their home when all their livestock died.  With the help of ...

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Entire villages have lost their crops and livestock, forcing families to leave their homes in search of food and water.

Asha, a young widow, and her four children were forced to leave their home when all their livestock died.  With the help of their neighbours they travelled to a temporary shelter in search of food and water.

Asha Abdi Osman with her four children at her mother in laws home at their temporary shelter near the town of near the town of Burao, Somalia Wednesday, March 8, 2017. Asha has had to leave her home because all her livestock died. She is a widow and has been forced to live with her in laws. Her community all contributed money to help her with transport so that she could travel there. Lack of rain and other environmental factors mean that a severe drought is affecting millions of people across Somalia. UNICEF is supporting those most in need with water and nutritional programmes. UNICEF and its partners treat children suffering from life threatening severe acute malnutrition (SAM) through Stabilization Centres – wards in hospitals for severely acutely malnourished children with additional complications such as illnesses where they receive medical treatment, fortified milk and ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF) – generally therapeutic peanut paste. UNICEF supports seven Stabilization Centres in Somaliland. SAM cases without complications are given outpatient treatment in an Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP) where they receive a supply of RUTF. UNICEF is supporting 95 centres in all regions. UNICEF also has 38 mobile nutrition teams which travel round hundreds of sites to assess and treat children and health teams with a nutrition screener. In March 2017 UNICEF will support an additional 9 mobile teams, five Stabilization Centres and 15 fixed OTP sites in the worst affected regions. Last year UNICEF treated 14,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (1,166 a month). Generally UNICEF treats 75% of SAM cases with other organizations arranging treatment for rest who can be reached. So far this year there has been a rise in severely acutely malnourished children to around 1,500 a month so far or 18,000. – but a much steeper rise in moderately malnourished children (treated by WFP) who risk becoming severely malnourished. As the humanitarAsha and her four children pose for a photo in front of their new home. Photo: Holt, Somalia, 2017. 

Right now, half the population more than 6 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. With failed crops and the devastating loss of livestock the price of food and water has increased dramatically forcing thousands of people to leave their homes in search of the most basic supplies they need to survive.

A woman who displaced by drought stands outside her temporary shelter near the town of Ainabo, Somalia, Thursday 9 March 2017. As the humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate in early 2017, an estimated 6.2 million people (about half of the population) are either severely food insecure or in need of livelihood support. Severe drought is now affecting all regions, following the failure of two or more consecutive rains, and with the last ‘Deyr’ season (October-December) performing poorly and large areas receiving less than 40 percent normal rainfall. The ongoing drought and other shocks have left communities with little or no remaining resources. Entire villages have lost their crops or seen their livestock die. The prices for water and locally produced food have risen dramatically, and thousands of people are on the move in search of food and water. The drought is also exacerbating the existing nutrition crisis in the country, where more than 363,000 children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, including 71,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and in urgent need of life-saving treatment. UNICEF estimates that by April 2017, 750,000 people will need health assistance and 4.5 million will need water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support. Also, should the next rains prove inadequate and humanitarian assistance not reach drought-affected populations, there is a risk of famine in the second half of 2017. The drought has also led to an increase in waterborne diseases, with more than 4,000 cases of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera this year. UNICEF and the World Food Programme are working together to scale up their responses in accessible areas, where millions of lives are at risk. Joint efforts include providing food and water vouchers for hundreds of thousands of people in drought-affected areas, and supporting life-saving services in nutrition, food security, health, education, water and sanitation. As needs mounts, UNICEF a A temporary shelter in Somalia for families displaced by drought. Photo: Holt, Somalia, 2017. 

With nothing to feed her two young children Sara left her home in search of food and water. Both children are now sick after drinking contaminated water. Sara told us although she has medicine for her children she still does not have food to feed them.

Sara Fara Mohamud sits for a photograph with her two young children who are suffering from flu and diarrhoea outside their makeshift shelter near the town of Burao, Somalia, Wednesday 8 March 2017. Sara has medicine for her two children, but no food. She was forced to leave her home and come to Burao in search of food and water. As the humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate in early 2017, an estimated 6.2 million people (about half of the population) are either severely food insecure or in need of livelihood support. Severe drought is now affecting all regions, following the failure of two or more consecutive rains, and with the last ‘Deyr’ season (October-December) performing poorly and large areas receiving less than 40 percent normal rainfall. The ongoing drought and other shocks have left communities with little or no remaining resources. Entire villages have lost their crops or seen their livestock die. The prices for water and locally produced food have risen dramatically, and thousands of people are on the move in search of food and water. The drought is also exacerbating the existing nutrition crisis in the country, where more than 363,000 children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, including 71,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and in urgent need of life-saving treatment. UNICEF estimates that by April 2017, 750,000 people will need health assistance and 4.5 million will need water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support. Also, should the next rains prove inadequate and humanitarian assistance not reach drought-affected populations, there is a risk of famine in the second half of 2017. The drought has also led to an increase in waterborne diseases, with more than 4,000 cases of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera this year. UNICEF and the World Food Programme are working together to scale up their responses in accessible areas, where millions of lives are at risk. Joint efforts include providing food and waterSara sits with her two young children outside their temporary home. Photo: Holt, Somalia, 2017. 

Families like Sara’s who can’t afford water are relying on unprotected and unsafe water sources to survive. But this puts them at risk, we have already seen an increase in cases of waterborne diseases like cholera.

A severely malnourished child is held by its mother at the referral hospital in Hargeisa, Somalia, Saturday 11 March 2017. As the humanitarian situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate in early 2017, an estimated 6.2 million people (about half of the population) are either severely food insecure or in need of livelihood support. Severe drought is now affecting all regions, following the failure of two or more consecutive rains, and with the last ‘Deyr’ season (October-December) performing poorly and large areas receiving less than 40 percent normal rainfall. The ongoing drought and other shocks have left communities with little or no remaining resources. Entire villages have lost their crops or seen their livestock die. The prices for water and locally produced food have risen dramatically, and thousands of people are on the move in search of food and water. The drought is also exacerbating the existing nutrition crisis in the country, where more than 363,000 children under the age of 5 are acutely malnourished, including 71,000 suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and in urgent need of life-saving treatment. UNICEF estimates that by April 2017, 750,000 people will need health assistance and 4.5 million will need water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) support. Also, should the next rains prove inadequate and humanitarian assistance not reach drought-affected populations, there is a risk of famine in the second half of 2017. The drought has also led to an increase in waterborne diseases, with more than 4,000 cases of acute watery diarrhoea/cholera this year. UNICEF and the World Food Programme are working together to scale up their responses in accessible areas, where millions of lives are at risk. Joint efforts include providing food and water vouchers for hundreds of thousands of people in drought-affected areas, and supporting life-saving services in nutrition, food security, health, education, water and sanitation. As needs mounts, UNICEF and WA severely malnourished child rests on his mother lap while receiving treatment for severe malnutrition at a UNICEF supported centre. Photo: Holt, Somalia, 2017. 

Lack of food and clean water has exasperated the existing nutritional crisis and right now more than 365,000 children under the age of five are severely malnourished.  UNICEF is providing supplies of clean water, medicine and emergency food as well as treating children who are severely malnourished.

Please donate today and help provide lifesaving supplies to children at risk in Somalia.