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Saturday, April 23, 2016

Drought hits Somaliland’s most vulnerable

Reuters- A severe drought intensified by El Niño has hit Somaliland and Puntland, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. An estimated 1.7 million people are affected by drought and about 1.3 million people are at risk of slipping into acute food insecurity if they do receive assistance immediately.



A severe drought intensified by El Niño has hit Somaliland and Puntland, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. An estimated 1.7 million people are affected by drought and about 1.3 million people are at risk of slipping into acute food insecurity if they do receive assistance immediately.
The drought has led to loss of livestock out-migration, a sharp fall in crop production resulting in higher food prices, severe water shortages, rising household debt and increases in disease outbreaks and malnutrition.
Save the Children is providing emergency medical care to malnourished children in self-declared Somaliland’s Borama Hospital, where it runs a stabilisation centre. Rates of acute malnutrition have doubled in Borama, 120 km west of the capital Hargeisa, as a result of the drought.
The drought may worsen in the coming months as predictions for Somalia's main 'Gu' rainy season, from March to June, are poor, the United Nations has said.
Save the Children photos from Borama, Somaliland
Asterisk (*) denotes a name that has been changed to protect identity
Credit: Colin Crowley / Save the Children
  • The funnel clouds of dust devils whirl across the parched landscape on the highway between Hargeisa and Borama, Somaliland. A severe drought intensified by El Niño has hit Puntland and Somaliland hard, affecting hundreds of thousands of people in these regions.
  • A typical drought-affected landscape in Somaliland sits devoid of vegetation. The drought has led to loss of livestock, a sharp reduction in crop production and increase in food prices, severe water shortages, rising household debt, and increases in disease outbreaks and malnutrition.
  • Six month old Dahir* lies in a hospital bed in the Borama Hospital in Borama, Somaliland, where Save the Children is running a stabilisation centre for children affected by severe malnutrition. Dahir is suffering from severe malnutrition with medical complications. His mother, Amina,* brought him into the hospital when he became too weak to breastfeed. Says Amina, “The drought has affected us greatly. We live in the city but we depend on the farmers in the rural areas for our food and normally we can afford the food that is in the markets. This year the little food that is available is much more expensive than it was last year. It is so expensive that we cannot afford to buy it.”
  • Mother Amina* holds the hand of her six month old son, Dahir, who is being treated for severe malnutrition in the Borama Hospital in Somaliland. Save the Children runs a stabilisation centre for severely malnourished children at the hospital in Borama, where rates of acute malnutrition have doubled as a result of this year’s drought.
  • Amina* sits with Dahir* in the Borama Hospital in the Awdal region of Somaliland, Says Amina, “This year we can only afford to eat one meal of boiled maize meal a day and we have no milk. In normal years, we could afford to eat three meals a day and drink milk daily. This year there is no milk production because the livestock have been so affected by the drought. Many animals have died and the surviving animals are not able to produce milk. Right now we are fearing starvation. I’m feeling demoralized because we have no money to buy food.”
  • Mothers line up with their children at the Qorgab Primary Health Centre in Borama, Somaliland. Save the Children has been running supplementary feeding programmes through centres like this one across Somaliland to respond to the drought.
  • Pediatric Nurse Safiya Cawale Good carries six month old Abdullahi* to be weighed in Save the Children’s stabilsation centre for severely malnourished children in the Borama Hospital in Somaliland. “The number of children being admitted in the stabilisation centre this year is higher than we have ever seen.” says Safiya. “This year we are seeing malnourished children and even malnourished mothers.”
  • Pediatric Nurse Safiya Cawale Good weighs six month old Abdullahi*. “The drought this year is worse than any of the previous years and the number of malnourished children keeps increasing,” says Safiya.

    She is one of the healthworkers responsible for caring for severely malnourished children in Save the Children’s stabilisation centre in the Borama Hospital. “I am a nurse, and my job is to support these mothers and these children,” she says. “If there was no stabilisation centre or no health facilities there would be no other way to solve this problem of malnutrition. If there was no stabilisation centre, the number of children dying from malnutrition would be so high.”
  • Bishaaro* holds her 20 month old son Saeed* in the entrance of Save the Children’s stabilisation centre for severely malnourished children at the Borama Hospital in Somaliland.
  • Mother Rahma* holds her 22 month-old son Ali* on their bed in Save the Children’s stabilisation centre for severely malnourished children at the Borama Hospital in Somaliland. Rahma’s family are subsistence farmers outside of Borama. This year’s drought has caused their crops to fail and cut output from their livestock. Says Rahma, “In previous years we would eat sorghum with milk three times a day but this year we have no milk and even the portions of sorghum we eat our greatly reduced.” Ali is being treated for severe malnutrition with medical complications.
  • 22 month-old Ali* looks to his mother Rahma* as they sit on their bed in the stabilisation centre. Ali’s health worsened as a result of severe malnutrition and opportunistic infections that took advantage of his weakened immune system. Says Rahma, “This year there has been no milk and very little sorghum. This drought has been recurrent. Each of the past three years has become worse and worse, so we are now suffering from the effects of three years of failed rains.”

    “Last year I was nursing Ali and supplementing his nursing with cow’s milk and porridge, but in the past year there was no cow’s milk to give him. He kept getting recurrent illnesses like fever and he became very weak.” says Rahma. “This is the first time any of my children have ever become malnourished like this. My other three children have always been fine, but this last year has been so difficult and Ali became very weak because we did not have enough food. I was worried for him. I was thinking, ‘Where can I take my child to help him? Why has he become like this?’”
  • Save the Children Nutrition Project Officer Faduma Haamud stands in the stabilisation centre for malnourished children that she helped to establish in the Borama Hospital in Somaliland. She says, “The most vulnerable people in a drought are always mothers and children, and the number of malnourished children is increasing day by day. Even the facilities we have here in the stabilisation centre in Borama are being overwhelmed. I think there is a really big problem. Imagine these mothers who see their children becoming malnourished and there is nothing that they can do to help them. They are really demoralized.”
  • Pediatric nurse Safiya Cawale Good gives a dose of therapeutic feeding formula to Deka*, 18 months old, who is held by her mother Hodan* in the Borama Hospital in Borama, Somaliland. Borama is located in a region that has seen the numbers of acutely malnourished children double as a result of this year’s drought.