In Somalia, CERF funding fights food insecurity

Somalia |2023| CERF

Somalia, Dollow and elsewhere. “I have lived here all my life and have never seen a drought like the one we are experiencing now. Everything just dried up right in front of our eyes,” said Sahra Abdi, a 29-year-old mother who, with her children, is among the thousands of internally displaced people in Dollow.

In Somalia, grappling with the worst drought in four decades, humanitarian agencies received funding from CERF as part of the global allocation of $250 million in March 2023 to prevent famine and help people living through the world’s least funded crises.

Bring water to the doorstep

Sahra fled her home in the Somali Region of Ethiopia in 2021 because of the drought,. Apart from the lack of work, she says that one of the biggest challenges they face in the displacement site is the constant lack of safe water.

“For us to get clean and safe drinking water, it often meant long, arduous hours of walking to the nearest water source, which is an unsafe journey. This is a task I did not look forward to,” she says.

With support from CERF, UNICEF built twenty-five elevated water tanks that are filled at least twice a day and benefit around 5,000 people.

“With this newly constructed water source, the water is a few meters from my home, and this has solved many challenges for me and the community here. It was a big relief,” says Sahra.

Triumph over illness

Maryama’s life took a devastating turn when she lost her livestock to the relentless drought. She was left provide for her children alone, without support from her extended family.

Like many others, she was unable to find enough food for her family and the children were hungry. In July, with CERF funding, the WHO-supported Mother and Child Hospital in Heliwa district admitted Maryma’s three-year-old daughter, Amina.

At the hospital’s stabilization centre, Amina was diagnosed with severe acute malnutrition, compounded by a range of medical complications. During her hospitalization, Amina received essential medications and therapeutic milk to stabilize her and help her grow.

In the weeks that followed, Amina continued her journey towards full recovery as Maryama brought her to the hospital for ongoing outpatient treatment.

Such was the impact of Amina’s recovery that her neighbours gave her a new name, ‘Xabaal Diid’, meaning ‘triumph over illness’.

Alongside Amina’s treatment, the whole family received help. Her mother said, “Without this, I would have certainly lost my daughter. As well as the treatment of my daughter, we have been provided with three meals a day, food packages, a warm blanket and cleaning supplies.”

“CERF assistance enables the Mother and Child Hospital to provide life-saving treatment and care for children like Amina, ensuring they have access to medical support and a chance for a better future,” said Dr Mahmud, the medical officer at the hospital.

Cash assistance and animal feed for pastoralist families

Shukri Hassan Ali lives with her family in Buulo Holla, Baidoa district, Somalia. “The drought had a huge effect on my family and our monthly income was even less than USD 20. But I was registered in the FAO programme and received range cubes (a kind of cattle feed) for my animals and cash to help us get our basic needs,” she explained.

CERF funding allowed FAO to implement a cash programme that combined cash assistance with animal feed distribution to help pastoralist families get back on their feet. Since people in this area are mainly pastoralists, the range cubes offer a way to keep animals healthy even during dry seasons, providing a critical lifeline for pastoralist families.

“Hopefully the remaining animals will multiply when the rains come,” she remarked. “Without FAO’s assistance, we wouldn’t be able to safeguard these remaining animals.”

In addition, the family will receive monthly cash payments for five months, to help weather the difficult dry season. Shukri explains that she and her husband used the money to buy medicine for their children.

Adapted from original stories by UNICEF, WHO, FAO and UNHCR Somalia.

More information on the CERF allocations.