Young lives threatened by hunger and drought

As regions across Africa continue to suffer consecutive seasons of drought and food shortages, World Vision is bringing assistance to malnourished children like Saytuun, who was able to recover after three months of therapeutic feeding at a nutrition center.

Story and photos by Amanda Jepchirchir Koech, World Vision
Published May 14, 2013 at 12:00am PDT

Goldogob, located near the border between Ethiopia and Somalia, is surrounded by numerous villages that depend on it for their medical needs, because they lack health facilities.

From malnutrition to health

Saytuun is a 10-month-old girl who was admitted to the World Vision outpatient theraputic program in Goldogob, after she was diagnosed with malnutrition. At the time of her admission in November 2012, she only weighed five kilograms, or 11 pounds.

“We are a very poor family that cannot afford to pay for treatment of our children, and sometimes we miss our daily food,” says Saytuun’s mother, Ikran, who attributes her daughter’s malnutrition to the poverty they face.

Virtually all families in Goldogob, northern Somalia, and across rural East Africa depend on livestock to make a living. However, successive droughts have decimated the cattle population, leaving many families poor and unable to meet their basic needs.

At the local nutrition center managed by World Vision, Saytuun received nutrient-rich supplements, while her general health was monitored on a weekly basis.

Within the first three weeks, her condition improved, as she continued to gain strength. And after three months in the program, Saytuun had fully recovered and was discharged. This girl is among dozens of children who have been treated successfully at the nutrition center thus far.

A broader crisis

Currently, World Vision is the only humanitarian agency that provides nutrition intervention in Goldogob. The program operates weekly with five staff members. It targets children ages 6 months through 4 years old who suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

The team also dispenses deworming medicines and conducts community mobilization and health education sessions in Goldogob and surrounding villages.

Malnutrition remains a major challenge for children in Somalia. Recently released statistics indicate malnutrition affects nearly one in three children. An estimated 215,000 children under 5 years of age are acutely malnourished, out of which at least 45,000 are severely malnourished.

World Vision’s successful treatment of Saytuun and other children in Goldogob, Somalia — as well as other parts of the drought-weary Horn of Africa — has contributed to overall efforts to reduce malnutrition among children.

But challenges remain as dry conditions persist across large parts of the continent, resulting in poor harvests, loss of livestock, and resulting food shortages. World Vision teams remain focused on providing emergency aid to children in greatest need, like Saytuun, while helping families and communities develop sustainable, long-term solutions to reduce malnutrition and increase food security.

Learn more

Read more about World Vision’s work to address hunger and malnutrition.

Four ways you can help

Please pray for children like Saytuun who are extremely vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition. Though Saytuun was able to recover, many more are at risk in this region and across other parts of Africa where prolonged droughts have caused major suffering.

Make a one-time donation to help provide life-saving food and care to children suffering from hunger. Your contribution will help us bring assistance in places of great need through interventions like emergency food aid, nutritional training, agricultural support, clean water, and more.

Give monthly to support children affected by hunger. Your monthly donation will help us reach even more children who suffer because of hunger, malnutrition, and food shortages.

Contact President Obama today. Sign our Beyond 5 petition and urge the president to support policies that reduce global hunger and address other preventable causes of death among children under age 5.