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Week 4: Returning Home


Fatuma and her daughter Halima outside their home and heading out to the health facility to get RUTF for Halima. Photo by: Fardosa Hussein, Action Against Hunger Mogadishu, Somalia.

By the time Halima leaves the stabilisation centre, she is in a much better state than when she first arrived. She can now sit up on her own and is interacting with her mother. Her hair is still discoloured, and sometimes she can be a little irritable, but it’s clear that the Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food is making a difference.

Fatuma and her children live with her uncle in a camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs), alongside hundreds of others in difficult, unsanitary conditions. Her uncle runs a shop outside the camp and is their primary caretaker.

“For now my uncle is my only support system,” says Fatuma. “Some days I go out and do laundry to be able to afford diapers for my seven-month-old son and other days I stay at home and watch them.”

This week, with further care and feeding at home, Halima’s health is improving quickly. As she gains weight, she seems far more settled and she’s smiling a lot.

Fatuma decides it’s time to shave off her daughter’s dried-out, brittle hair so that healthy hair can regrow, and she dresses her in her favourite red baati. With the family back home together after so long, it finally seems as if there is some peace in their lives.

Somalia is a country in humanitarian crisis. Years of conflict, drought, and desert locust infestations have left many Somalis without homes or land, and unable to feed their families.

According to UNHCR there are more than 2.6 million internally displaced people living in Somalia – having fled war, drought/floods or both. Like Fatuma and her family, many of Somalia’s internally displaced people live in informal camps on the outskirts of Mogadishu, forced to move regularly from camp to camp. Limited access to water and insufficient sanitation facilities are also driving increased levels of malnutrition and disease across the country.

Many Somali children are not getting enough food, both in terms of quantity and variety. In 2018, more than 1.2 million children in Somalia suffered from malnutrition (UNICEF 2020). An Action Against Hunger needs assessment in 2018, showed that the main drivers of food insecurity include low and inconsistent income sources and fluctuating market prices of food and other essential commodities.

 

Around the world, 2.3 million children under the age of five die every year because their diets lack the nutrition to keep them healthy and safe from preventable diseases. But if malnutrition is treated fast, a child has a chance at a healthy future.

This winter, please help us reach children suffering from life-threatening malnutrition. It takes an average of just six weeks of treatment to save a child’s life.