accessibility & help

Red Cross saves lives by treating malnutrition in Somalia

13 July 2011

A displaced pastoralist boy sits with his grandmotherAs the humanitarian crisis in East Africa deepens, the Red Cross is increasing its reach to the most vulnerable people and opening ten new feeding centres in Somalia.

Levels of malnutrition in Somalia, especially for children under five years old, have reached a new peak and are currently the highest in the world. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Somali Red Crescent are building on their existing healthcare facilities and opening new feeding centres in Bakool, Gedo and the Afgoye corridor.

A new feeding programme supplementing the regular therapeutic feeding is being launched for malnourished children under five and other vulnerable groups, such as pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Children with acute malnutrition

In some parts of Somalia, the number of children with severe acute malnutrition has almost doubled since March.

"A dramatic increase in cases of malnutrition can be observed even in the Bay and Lower Shabelle regions, usually described as the country's breadbaskets, where nearly 11 per cent of children under five suffer from severe acute malnutrition," said Andrea Heath, ICRC economic security co-ordinator for Somalia.

"These deeply disturbing findings show that the population is no longer able to cope with the current drought, while at the same time struggling to survive armed conflict. The groups hardest hit are farmers and pastoralists who have not been able to gain access to alternative pastureland.

“Significant crop failures, very high livestock losses, increased food prices, recurrent fighting and the absence of humanitarian aid are the main reasons that an already desperate situation has become even worse in many parts of central and southern Somalia."

Red Cross response in Kenya

The situation in Kenya is also distressing with child malnutrition rates in the worst affected areas being more than double the emergency threshold of 15 per cent.

In March, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies launched an appeal to help 855,000 people. Its operation includes providing emergency food and water supplies, as well as strengthening communities’ resilience to future disasters by distributing seeds and greenhouses.

The British Red Cross contributed £200,000 to part of the relief programme by supporting feeding for 25,000 children in schools in nine districts.   

Read more about our appeals for current emergencies

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