Survival Struggle In Somalia
In 2011, the Horn of Africa was hit by the severest drought in the last 60 years. Tens of thousands of people died from starvation and malnutrition-related diseases in Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia and according to the UN, over 12 million people need immediate food aid. In Somalia which is hit by the drought the most, about 1.4 million of children are affected by malnutrition, while the humanitarian organizations fear that 400,000 children could die in the next couple of months if the international community does not act urgently. According to the UN refugee agency, 10 Somali children below the age of 5 years die every day in the Ethiopian refugee camp in Kobe. And the situation is predicted to get even worse, especially in Somalia where the civil conflict prevents food delivery and forces thousands of families to flee their homes for both safety reasons and to search for food.
The Somalian diet bases on grains and maize, and occasionally goat or camel meat. However, the grain and maize harvest has failed due to drought. As a result, the Somali families found themselves without food. Only a few can afford imported food such as rice because it is very expensive due to scarcity. About 3.7 million Somalians which is about one half of the country’s population are estimated to be in need of food aid with most of them, especially children being in immediate need of food. More than 500,000 Somali children are estimated to suffer from malnutrition at the moment of writing. Those under the age of 5 years are affected the most and even those who find food such as rice do not get all the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development. Malnutrition was a major problem in the country already before the catastrophic drought and often started before birth. Pregnant women not eating a nutritionally balanced diet give birth to malnourished babies, while inability of malnourished mothers to produce milk makes the problem even worse. They are forced to feed their babies with whatever they can find which, however, does not provide their babies the necessary nutrients for healthy growth and development.
Deficiency of essential nutrients also makes the Somali children increasingly vulnerable to a number of diseases including those that were virtually eradicated in the developed world such as measles and whooping cough because Somalia has one of the lowest rates of immunization in the world. According to UNICEF, every one out of six children dies before the age of 5 years due to malnutrition-related diseases. The 2011 drought further worsened the problem of malnutrition and the number of children dying from consequences of malnutrition and starvation is rapidly rising. Rain in the Horn of Africa is not expected until October but even then, the crisis will not come to an end. The malnourished Somali children cannot survive without a foreign food aid and those that will may suffer from consequences of malnutrition their entire life.
I am a registered nurse with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. I have written two successful books, hundreds of medical articles for trade publications, a consumer magazine, a legal publication and a private foundation. I am honored to serve as a peer reviewer for Baby Lifetime. Check me out at Google