Nairobi (MCRS) 12 Apr. 2016 – The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) are intensifying joint efforts to assist communities in northern Somalia coping with a severe drought exacerbated by El Niño conditions.
The two agencies are providing an integrated package of life-saving humanitarian assistance to halt the deteriorating food security and rising malnutrition in the affected areas of Somaliland and Puntland, where 385,000 need immediate assistance, while another 1.3 million are on the brink of slipping into a deeper crisis if rains continue to fail and aid is too slow to come.
The aid package includes food assistance, nutrition programmes, and health services, as well as support to help communities access safe water and improve sanitation and hygiene conditions.
“The communities have lived through four successive poor rainy seasons, and their ability to cope with the drought has been stretched to the limit,” said UNICEF Representative for Somalia, Steven Lauwerier. “Our concerted efforts are needed now to save the lives of tens of thousands of children and their families. Any delay from the international community will put their lives further at risk of hunger and disease,” he added
In addition to increased malnutrition cases and enrolment in nutrition programmes in the most affected areas, malnutrition-related deaths have been reported in areas such as Awdal region bordering Ethiopia.
In response, UNICEF is strengthening services at community level, deploying joint mobile health and nutrition teams to reach pastoral and other hard-to-reach groups.
Malnourished children will receive an essential package of primary health care interventions, including emergency immunization.
UNICEF is also providing 50,000 households with access to safe water via vouchers in the affected areas, and have repaired seven boreholes.