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Somalia, 1 March 2011: UNICEF provides emergency relief to Somali children now facing drought in addition to conflict and displacement

NAIROBI, Kenya, 1 March 2011 – In addition to the many other challenges they face, Somali children are currently battling the effects of drought following the failure of the seasonal (October to January) Deyr rains. To support these children and their families UNICEF is working to provide emergency relief services to over 900, 000 people across the country in water, sanitation, hygiene, health, nutrition and education. Drought-affected areas include central south Somalia and the disputed region (between Puntland and Somaliland) of Sool and Sanaag.

A recent country-wide assessment carried out by the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) estimates that almost 2.4 million people (approximately 32% of the population) are currently in humanitarian and food crisis with about 246,000 children acutely-malnourished.

To ensure that the drought–response is cost-effective and sustainable, UNICEF is working with local and international partners in affected areas to rehabilitate and repair strategic water sources (e.g. wells and boreholes) instead of providing water trucking. As an example, a new borehole opened by UNICEF last week in Saddex Higlo, South Mudug, is now providing almost 1,000 families with water. “The village used to rely heavily on water trucking and needed 10 tankers of water daily at a cost of US$1,400” said Ali Dahir, programme coordinator for the Somali Development and Relief Organisation responsible for the drilling of the borehole, “Now the people of the village will no longer have to spend lots of time and money to get water.”  

Visiting Saddex Higlo for the hand-over, UNICEF Representative to Somalia Rozanne Chorlton said: “It is wonderful to see the water problem of this village resolved especially because any crisis affecting the Somali people is a crisis for Somali children. As the most vulnerable in society, adversity affects the children most. The current drought is yet another tragedy to befall Somali children already affected by ongoing conflict and displacement but UNICEF will continue to support communities to respond these challenges even where access to disputed areas makes our work more difficult.”

In drought -affected areas UNICEF and partners are also introducing a voucher system to enable low-income families to purchase water locally. This not only guarantees families a water supply even as prices rise but ensures that it is for household use. In addition, UNICEF is supporting the construction of latrines and supplying sanitation and hygiene supplies (such as aquatabs, chlorine, water bladders, jerry-cans) to benefit agro-pastoralists, households, villages and IDP settlements. Complementary hygiene promotion activities are also taking place to prevent any outbreak of acute watery diarrhea.

In affected communities UNICEF is also providing support to health and nutrition interventions including out-patient therapeutic programmes (OTP), supplementary feeding programmes (SFP) and the provision of essential medicines, oral rehydration salts (ORS) and routine immunisation services through health facilities, health posts and mobile health teams.

For more information please contact:

Denise Shepherd-Johnson, Communication Chief, UNICEF Somalia. Mobile: +254 722 719 867. Direct line: +254 20 7208217. Email:

Robert Kihara, Communication Officer, UNICEF Somalia. Mobile: + 254-722-206883. Email:



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