Safiya gives her severely malnourished daughter Fardosa Plumpy’Nut at Yabelo General Hospital, Ethiopia. Photo: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger
In Ethiopia, over 35% of children suffer from malnutrition, and climate change is making the problem worse. Longer periods of drought mean that crops will not grow, and livestock have no grass to eat. In the last two years, climate change has also contributed to flash floods and the worst desert locust infestation recorded in the Horn of Africa.
“When we have rain during the rainy season the cattle have a lot of grass to eat and we get milk from them. But when there is no rain, the cattle get hungry and they don’t have anything to eat, so in turn we don’t get any milk and go hungry.” – Medina
Our lifesaving programs help kids recover from malnutrition so they can grow healthy and thrive.
Meet four mothers who came to Action Against Hunger for help.
Safiya and baby Fardosa
A nurse checks 11-month-old Fardosa’s nutrition status using a MUAC band. The red square indicates the baby is severely malnourished. Photo: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger.
Ever since Fardosa was born, it has been a challenge to make her gain weight. Determined to help her baby, Safiya visited multiple clinics and hospitals, but no one could help. Finally, she came to the Action Against Hunger-supported Stabilization Centre at Yabelo General Hospital, where health staff have been trained to treat critical cases like Fardosa’s.
“When I brought Fardosa [to the Stabilization Centre] she was so weak, only her soul was inside her. The doctors have helped her so much. They gave her food to eat, milk to drink, and they helped her to get much better.” – Safiya
Although Fardosa is still weak, she is gradually gaining weight thanks to the expert care she is receiving.
“The message I want to give Action Against Hunger is that if it wasn’t for them I would have lost my child. A lot of mothers like me have lost their children. It is thanks to the Stabilization Centre that my baby is alive; that I have my baby in my arms right now.”
Help us fight child malnutrition
Medina and baby Munira
Baby Munira eating Plumpy’Nut, a Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food developed by Action Against Hunger to treat malnutrition and give young children the nutrients they need. Photo: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger
Several months ago, baby Munira, then less than a year old, started rejecting food. Her mother Medina grew increasingly worried as she watched her daughter lose weight day by day. For months, she searched for a way to treat her daughter – first with traditional remedies, then asking her neighbours for help, then visiting local hospitals, but no one had the answer.
One day, a group of Action Against Hunger health and nutrition experts visited her neighbourhood. They were there to raise awareness about malnutrition and tell mothers like Medina where to go for help.
Medina took her baby daughter to the Stabilization Centre, where the little girl was immediately admitted and treated. When she was discharged, Action Against Hunger staff visited the family at home to continue outpatient treatment and share advice on how to keep Munira healthy. Today, Munira is a vibrant and adventurous child who loves to play outdoors with her cousins.
“I am so happy and excited because now Munira runs around, she goes here and there. Back then, she couldn’t walk and I couldn’t do anything except hold her. I am so happy with her. When she grows up I want to send her to school and I wish her every possible good thing in the future.” -Medina
Abdiya with her four children. Photo: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger
Abdiya is pregnant and lives in a camp for Internally Displaced Persons with her husband and four children.
Until recently, she had a happy life with her family in Udet, an 11-day walk from the camp where she now lives. Food was not a problem for her family as they had 20 cows that provided food and income. But as the dry seasons got longer, her livestock became weak. The family lost half their herd to the drought, and as conditions worsened, conflict escalated. The other half of the herd was stolen.
In the camp, Abiya began to feel unwell. Her family had left all of their belongings behind when they left Udet and could afford only to eat sorghum powder. Abdiya worried that she was not getting adequate nutrition for her growing baby. She often felt lightheaded and experienced blurred vision. After learning that Action Against Hunger operated an OTP nearby, she came to us for help.
“[Malnutrition during pregnancy] worries me a lot because when I eat, the baby inside me eats too. When I don’t eat, the baby inside is not able to eat. When I can’t get enough food when I am pregnant, my mind doesn’t work properly; it’s madness.”
Abiya received treatment from our health staff, who also checked her baby. The health staff advised her on how to prevent malnutrition and treated her with medication. Abdiya was also sent home with cooking pots, washbasins, blankets, mosquito nets and soap to make it easier to prepare meals and maintain healthy hygiene practices.
Kebele and baby Dabo
Kebele holds her baby daughter, Dabo, who is slowly recovering from malnutrition. Photo: Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger.
Kebele lives in a remote village with her husband and baby daughter, Dabo. The family used to cultivate a small plot of land, but it is now so dry that no crops will grow. Two of her four cows died because there is no grass to eat.
When baby Dabo became ill and stopped eating, Kebele soon noticed the same symptoms in herself. She lost her appetite and became nauseous at the sight of food. She decided to make the long journey to Yabelo General Hospital to find help, first walking with Dabo on her back, then hiring a motorcycle.
At the hospital, both mother and daughter were immediately admitted to the Stabilization Centre supported by Action Against Hunger. Thanks to the expert care of the health staff, Kebele’s symptoms quickly disappeared, while her baby’s condition slowly began to improve.
“We faced a lot of problems because we live far away and it is very expensive to reach the health centre. It was difficult but I managed to get here with Dabo. I feel proud and happy for sacrificing what I can for the health of my child. I wish to say to the people who helped Dabo, thank you!” – Kebele
Why your support matters
With your help, we can:
- Help more mothers and caregivers access nutritious food for their children
- Provide clean water, sanitation and health services to help limit the spread of diseases that cause malnutrition
- Train health staff like Nutritionist Gelaye Bekele and Nurse Ware Arbale to improve the delivery of malnutrition treatment services
- Teach communities to grow sustainable crops for a healthier future
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Help us fight child malnutrition