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Somalia, 9 October 2017: Nutrition centre supported by the UK saves the lives of children hit by the continuing drought

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Makundi
Little Abdi Garun enjoys being weighed at the Deeg – Roor Medical Organization (DMO) Outpatient Therapeutic centre for severely malnourished children in Baidoa, south central Somalia.

BAIDOA, Somalia, October 2017 - Hundreds of children’s lives have been saved by a modest nutrition centre in the middle of dusty Baidoa town in southern Somalia. In the Centre, worried mothers sit quietly on mats, the babies strapped on their backs, the toddlers playing with cups of water or chewing on sachets of therapeutic peanut paste.

The prolonged drought has hit this area, which was the epicentre of the 2011 famine, very badly. As consecutive rainy seasons failed, the livestock died and there was little in the way of local harvests of maize and sorghum.

Buley Ali Mursal perches, squashed between other mothers, on the low concrete bench. Her independent four year old Faylow confidently walks around while two year old Adam tries to hide between his mother’s legs. She brought the children here from their village 20 kilometres away after they began to look weak and listless.

“We didn’t have any harvest at all this year for ourselves or to sell, the children are just eating maize,” said Buley who is bringing her children for their third appointment. “Otherwise we just have these sachets for the children. I was so worried I didn’t think they would become healthy without help so we came here. Now they are getting much better.”

© UNICEF Somalia/2017/Makundi
Adan Ali Mursal, who has come to the UNICEF supported nutrition centre in Baidoa with his older sister Faylow, is measured to see if he is severely malnourished and needs treatment.

The Programme Coordinator for DMO, the local NGO which runs the centre with UNICEF support, Abdirahim Moalim Mohamed, says currently over 160 children were being treated for life threatening malnutrition. During the morning they had admitted 15 children into the programme. The children are measured and weighed, given a health check and any necessary medication and vaccinations and finally a supply of therapeutic peanut paste (also known as ready to use therapeutic food or RUTF). So far this year nearly 1,300 children with life threatening malnutrition have been cured after enrolling in the programme. The NGO DMO runs three other mobile clinics covering 15 settlements for the displaced around Baidoa. WFP also provides supplies for the family when the child is discharged.

Some of the highest levels of malnutrition in the country are in the surrounding camps for the internally displaced. Ten month old Binti is being weighed in a plastic bucket hung from the scales. Her mother, Habiba and five siblings moved to a makeshift settlement from their village a month ago.

“All our goats and cows died and so did the crops so we had to move,” said Habiba.

Habiba’s husband makes a small amount of money loading trucks and she fetches firewood. Food is scarce.

“I saw Binti was looking very weak so we came here and now her health has improved over the past month,” said Habiba. “There are many children around our camp who are suffering in the same way.”

Anisa is three years old but is being carried by her mother Hawad and doesn’t look like she could even walk. She weighs just over six kilogrammes. Her mother, Hawad, said the little girl became weak after getting measles. The doctor said Anisa’s condition meant she would be referred to the inpatient Stabilization Centre at the nearby hospital.

Overall the nutrition situation in Somalia continues to deteriorate. UNICEF Somalia receives generous funding from UK's Department For International Development (DFID) for its nutrition programme and thanks to this and other funding, this year UNICEF and partners have delivered life saving treatment to over 180,000 children throughout Somalia suffering from life threatening severe acute malnutrition.



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