UNICEF treats malnourished children in drought-stricken Somalia

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Three consecutive failed rainy seasons have left 29.1 million people in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya in need of emergency humanitarian assistance in 2022, including at least 1.7 million severely wasted children who have need emergency nutritional support.

Somalia is by far the most affected country, with an estimated 1.4 million children suffering from acute malnutrition by the end of 2022. About a quarter of them – 330,000 children – suffer from severe acute malnutrition, far exceeding the 190,000 who needed treatment during the country’s 2011 famine.

Climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of droughts: Over 90% of Somalia is experiencing severe drought, with some places experiencing their driest season in 40 years. This year, more than 81,000 people are at risk of starvation by the end of June if the current rainy season fails.

Severe drought fuels child malnutrition crisis in the Horn of Africa

During a recent visit to a UNICEF-supported integrated health center in Dollow, Somalia, UNICEF Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, Raina Dagash, met mothers who had traveled 120 kilometers to get emergency care for their severely malnourished children. The center provides children with life-saving ready-to-use therapeutic food and therapeutic milk.

“The kids have diarrhea, they’re vomiting, they’re very weak, very dizzy,” Dagash said. “Drought is the reason they moved 120 kilometers away. Many more are being left behind.”

Find out how UNICEF is helping malnourished children like 9-month-old Farah in Somalia:

Nine-month-old Farah’s mother, father and brother walked for three days to get her to Dollow’s outpatient treatment centre. “His mother thinks [Farah] will be a doctor when she grows up,” Dagash said.

“The commute and the long walk exhausts the kids,” Dagash added. “That’s on top of food insecurity, lack of water, disease. And the combination is what’s fatal for a lot of these vulnerable children. It’s what potentially increases mortality.”

UNICEF works to bring nutrition services closer to children in need so they can receive the support they need to survive and thrive. Your contribution can make the difference. Please donate.

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Top photo: On May 24, 2022, 10-month-old Ubah is fed ready-to-use therapeutic food by her mother at Dollow Health Center in Somalia. UNICEF is one of the largest service providers in Somalia, treating children affected by the ongoing child malnutrition crisis in the Horn of Africa. © UNICEF/UN0644320/Fazel

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