A sachet of hope, a taste of recovery

China Aid helps UNICEF reach vulnerable children with lifesaving nutrition services

UNICEF Somalia
28 February 2018

At the outpatient nutrition centre run by UNICEF partner, SOYDA, Borile, 2, munches a sachet of a special paste that’s filled with nutrients and calories. By the contented look on his face it must taste good, as well. The paste is a ready-to-use therapeutic food designed to treat severe acute malnutrition among children. Not far, his mother, Fardowas just completed an education session on infant and young child feeding given by one of the health workers. Before heading home, Fardowsa is given more of that paste. She will continue to administer it to Borile at home until he recovers fully.

Fardowsa is a single mother of three. Her husband passed away last year, leaving her with a few animals. She managed as long as she could, until the remaining animals were also wiped out in the long drought. Without any means of supporting herself and her children, Fardowsa had no choice but to leave her home behind in Merka, Lower Shabelle region. She and the children headed to Mogadishu, the capital, and settled in Burtinle camp for the displaced on the outskirt.

Then little Borile fell ill. Neighbours told Fardowsa about the SOYDA centre, and how the services there are offered for free. So she went. The doctors examined Borile and told her that he was suffering from severe malnutrition, but no need to worry as he would most definitely recover with the right treatment. And surely enough, Borile has been gaining weight steadily and is returning to his old active, curious, self.

“I cannot stop thanking SOYDA and UNICEF for providing me with this support,” says Fardowsa. “It is just so good to see my son getting well. The doctors here are very nice. They see a lot of children everyday but they are always patient.”

Across the country, UNICEF supports more than 700 such outpatient nutrition centres run by partners like SOYDA. Nearly 300 of them were set up in 2017, during the height of the drought emergency that had left more than half of the population, 6.7 million, including 4 million children, in need of humanitarian assistance. The intensified response was made possible thanks to the generous contribution from the donors, including a US$2 million from China. By the end of the year, some 270,000 children with life threatening severe acute malnutrition were reached with the treatment that little Borile is receiving. Almost all of them recovered.

The crisis, however, is not yet over. In 2018, there are still 5.4 million people in need of assistance, 2.8 million of them children. Life is hard and will continue to be for mothers like Fardowsa. But as Fardowsa has learned that there is help. And UNICEF – with the support from our donors and partners - is committed to making sure that such help is available to them for as long as they may need.