Restoring hope and helping to cope
As severe drought in decades makes food scarcer in Ethiopia’s Somali region, UNICEF’s cash transfer and nutrition programme is helping families feed their children and fight malnutrition.
This is how UNICEF and partners are supporting families struggling to put food on the table due to severe drought.
“I lost my herd of camels and cattle,” says Arish Mahat. “I didn’t have any reason to stay. I left to seek help,”
Most of Arish’s possessions were wiped out due to one of the worst droughts in decades in Ethiopia’s Somali region.
Struggling to feed her family, she fled, travelling for six days with her children to get to Bul’ad camp. Here, help arrived in the form of cash transfers provided by UNICEF in coordination with the region’s Bureau of Labour and Social Affairs. Priority is being given to breastfeeding mothers and families with children under the age of two. The cash offers opportunities and choices for women like Arish to address their pressing needs.
Along with the cash transfers, mothers are also trained on how to make nutritious meals for their families. The training also includes best child feeding practices. Arish who is still breastfeeding her child also participated in the training. “We are integrating this food demonstration with the cash transfer to reduce malnutrition which is a serious challenge here because of a prolonged drought. The mothers trained here will cascade their skills to others in the camp,” says Abdi Fekdid Mursal, UNICEF Ethiopia Nutrition Officer.
After a meal preparation demonstration, Arish (right) and the other mothers were given the chance to cook a variety of dishes. They were guided step by step so that they understand the value of each nutritious food and the optimal time needed to cook.
And the result was fantastic. Arish cooked a tasty meal with beans, tomato, an egg, onions, and cooking oil. “I am excited. We gained knowledge about good food preparation. This is also good for our children.”
Arish’s next plan is to visit the local market to buy essential food items with the money she has received. For drought-affected people, cash transfers not only help them meet their immediate needs but also gives them hope for a better future.
In the Somali region of Ethiopia, one of the hardest drought-hit areas, UNICEF with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing cash transfers to families displaced by drought. The cash, together with integrated health and nutrition services helps restore livelihoods and supports the local economy.