The drought is driving up cases of child hunger and malnutrition in Borena.
In drought ravaged Borena, Oromia Region, children suffering from severe acute malnutrition are being rushed to health centres by their parents. These are their stories.
For the past three years, unrelenting drought has taken a devastating toll on children and their families in Borena Zone, Ethiopia. Lack of food and water has forced thousands of people to abandon their homes.
According to the zone’s multi-agency rapid assessment report, scarcity of livestock feed and water has caused the deaths of over 3.3 million livestock in Borena. The same report also indicates that, out of the 1.7 million population, more than half are in need of food assistance.
A proud pastoralist society, normally self-sufficient and able to feed others, are currently dependent on aid.
Households are running out of food, malnutrition cases are on the rise, and some parents are rushing to health centres to save their babies from dying.
The nutrition stabilization unit of Yabello Hospital is currently swamped with children requiring care. After being weakened by severe malnutrition, many are now even more vulnerable to the impacts of common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, malaria, pneumonia and measles.
The situation is grave, and the needs are immense.
With generous funding from USAID BHA, FCDO and EU, and in coordination with Regional Authorities, the Government of Ethiopia and other partners, UNICEF is scaling up its efforts to respond by delivering supplies such as ready-to-use-therapeutic food, therapeutic milk, and medicines. We are also training health workers across the region to prevent, detect and treat severe malnutrition.
Stories from parents
“My children were not feeling well so I brought them here for a check-up. I could not adequately breastfeed since I am not eating well myself and I do not produce enough milk for both. They told me that my twins have malnutrition,” she says. Thanks to the nutritional support, both twins are starting to recover. “Since I came here, I was given milk for my children and their weight has increased. I am also given food. We were given a bed to sleep. I am taking one day at a time and cannot complain.”
“When I brought Nesra to Yabello Hospital four days ago, she was very weak and suffering from diarrhoea. She was given milk and medication,” Ibrahim says, wringing his hands with worry. “The health workers told me that she has malnutrition. She is now progressing very well.”
His family are in desperate need because of the drought. “All of my 15 cattle have died. Having five children at home, there is not enough food to eat, and we are now relying on support from others. I am so sad,” he says. “I hope the government can give us some cash so that we can start small businesses and become independent again.”
“Since I brought her here, she was provided with milk and medication and there is a lot of progress. The vomiting and diarrhoea stopped immediately. I am also provided with food and a bed. All this is happening because of the severe drought where I came from in Bulka Kebele in Yabello. We are now relying on aid. I wish that this will be over soon, and we can go back to our normal lives. If this ends, I want to start a small business that can change the financial situation for myself and my family.”
Children and parents affected across the region urgently need support. Help save a life by donating today.
“It has been almost 20 days since I came here. I brought Guyo first and then Dabo. Guyo is showing progress after they gave him medication but there is no progress so far for Dabo. They even did a blood transfusion and the health workers come to check on him time and again. I am really worried. All this is happening because of the drought,” says Dhaki in anguish.
“She has continuous coughing, shivering, and vomiting. Her heart was also beating so fast when I brought her here. She is now diagnosed with anaemia and malnutrition. They also did a blood transfusion. It’s been three days and there is progress. There is a severe drought in our area. Resuming normalcy is unthinkable for now unless we are lucky to see the rain again.”
“Since we came 7 days ago, my daughter has recovered very well. She was given milk and some medicine. I am so happy that she will be discharged tomorrow totally recovered,” says Dermi with a smile despite the challenges. “The drought has affected us all. I have five children to look after. We have lost all our cattle. We are now relying on aid for food.”