Malnourished children in South West State receive life-saving support
UNICEF and USAID-BHA support communities affected by climate change
“Things have been very difficult especially with the drought situation and spiraling food prices. The money my family gets is not enough because sometimes it is unsafe to harvest trees for charcoal due to fear of insecurity,” says Layla, Daahir’s mother, after he was admitted a nutrition clinic suffering from severe wasting. Previously, he had measles, which his parents tried to manage at home using home remedies that did not work.
In Somalia, the past few decades have seen recurrent natural and man-made emergencies, instability, drought, famine, disease outbreaks and flooding - all affecting food security and resulting in internal displacement and malnutrition. Poor feeding practices exacerbate the levels of malnutrition, with an estimated 1.8 million children likely to be acutely malnourished in 2023, including almost half a million to be severely malnourished. Daahir Limaan, 12-months-old, is one of the children who was suffering from severe malnutrition, called severe wasting.
Drought and conflict in Bulodoonka village caused Daahir’s family of seven to end up in Ambareeso internally displaced persons (IDP) camp. Abukar, Daahir’s father, is the family’s breadwinner, earning a living by selling charcoal. Mostly, the family is only able to afford one meal a day, consisting of rice and bean, as the family cannot afford highly nutritious and diversified food products. With inadequate food and poor hygiene, Daahir became sick with persistent diarrhoea, leading to severe weight loss and a deterioration in his overall health condition. Luckily, his mother took him to Barawe OTP center after learning from the local community health worker about the available services provided by UNICEF’s partner New Ways Organization (NWO).
At the OTP site, in addition to Amoxicillin syrup, Vitamin A and deworming pills, Daahir was given a take home ration of plumpy nut - a highly nutritious and ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) - for the management of severe wasting. Layla was advised to give Daahir RUTF in addition to his usual diet for one week and then return to the nutrition facility for check-up. On his seventh follow-up, Daahir’s weight and health was sufficient to be discharged.
Layla was advised on continued breastfeeding and appropriate complementary feeding using the locally available and affordable nutritious food such as eggs, fruits and vegetables. Additionally, she attended a health promotion session where she received information about hygiene and childcare.
On discharge she was further referred to the WFP supported program for cash voucher assistance. “I was not sure about Daahir’s health condition. I was worried I would lose him, because he was very sick and all I could do was to pray to Allah to grant my child health,” Layla said. “Thanks to USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance (BHA), UNICEF and the staff from New Ways Organization, my child is healthy again. Looking at him now, I cannot believe that this is the same child who was frail over a month ago. I thank Allah and all who were involved in rescuing my child.”