A Mother’s Fight for her Daughter’s Survival
UNICEF strives to provide lifesaving nutrition for every child facing malnutrition in Somalia
Siti Osman, a 30-year-old mother of six and a resident of Dalxiska IDP Camp in Kismayo, is doing all she can to save the life of her daughter Zainab Abdikadir who has been on the brink due to malnutrition. In search of life-saving treatment, the mother of six knocked on all doors, reached out to a number of well-wishers and even visited some clinics in the city before she was turned away because she didn’t have money to treat her child. It is only when a relative suggested she takes the child to an outpatient therapeutic site run by Himilo Relief and Development Association, a UNICEF partner, that she was attended to.
Her child had suffered distress, her limbs were weak, she was frail and small, and she had severe acute malnutrition. She weighed only weighed 7 kgs at that time. Severely malnourished children are at increased risk of medical complications like measles, acute diarrhea, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and skin infections.
Siti recently fled from Kamsuma District in Lower Jubba due to the severe drought that has ravaged the country along with her six children and husband. They left their home with nothing apart from the clothes on their back. They were on the road to Kismayo for a week and encountered unimaginable difficulties on the 90-kilometer journey. She had no money to buy food, resulting in her youngest child becoming malnourished.
“We left our home, relatives, animals and way of life not by choice but due to the drought that has wiped out our livestock. The breaking point was when we lost the remaining animals, and we couldn’t feed our children. This drought has taken away our dignity. How can a parent fail to feed her children?” says Siti.
"We have seen an influx of people to Kismayo from far away places due to the prolonged drought. People walk in searing heat (temperatures reach as high as 40 degrees) and it can take more than a week to reach Kismayo,” says Najma, a nurse at Himilo. Regarding Zainab, the nurse adds “baby Zainab has received Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (a special peanut paste that can bring a malnourished child back to full health). This has fast tracked her recovery. Our team has made consistent follow ups to educate her mother on the importance of RUTF and also to encourage her on proper care practices,” she added.
Thanks to effective and thorough care, Zainab is on the road to recovery and has gained her strength and smile. Without proper nutrition treatment and constant care and attention, the situation would have been different. “No matter all the challenges and pain my family has gone through, seeing my child recover after two weeks has been a great source of joy and I am grateful for the services that have been provided,” says Siti. Mother and daughter will soon make their way back to Dalxiska IDP camp which is an informal settlement that is located within the town. Hope now lies in the upcoming rainy season which will cultivate a new optimism for the future.
UNICEF supports Himilo to undertake the outpatient nutrition programme in Kismayo with funds from the USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA).