Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ethiopia: Six Months into East Africa Famine Emergency, a Story of Survival | ReliefWeb

Three-year-old Mohammed lives in a tent with his mother, grandmother and aunt in Kobe camp, part of the Dolo Ado Complex in Ethiopia. Nearly 140,000 Somali refugees have sought refuge at Dolo Ado where International Medical Corps has worked since 2009 to provide critical humanitarian services. Following the outbreak of famine and severe drought nearly six months ago in East Africa, International Medical Corps quickly expanded our nutrition, sanitation and hygiene interventions throughout the region, focusing on treating and preventing malnutrition.

Originally from the Bay Region of Somalia, Mohammed’s family fled to Ethiopia to escape severe drought and insecurity in their home town, leaving Mohammed’s father behind to take care of their home. The long trek to reach the refugee camps in Ethiopia was very arduous with many days spent without food and only some sweet tea taken sporadically to abate their hunger. During the journey, Mohammed became sick due to hunger and a lack of safe drinking water. By the time he arrived at the camps, his condition had grown considerably worse due to a persistent cough and diarrhea. His mother Habiba brought Mohammed to International Medical Corps’ team at Kobe for treatment. The young boy was severely emaciated and fighting for his life. International Medical Corps staff examined and referred Mohammed to the Stabilization Center at the local health clinic where he was able to receive the appropriate medical attention for severe malnutrition and additional complications.

Following Mohammed’s discharge from the inpatient ward, International Medical Corps staff registered him to our Supplementary Feeding Program at International Medical Corps’ Community Nutrition Center (CNC) where he was able to receive nutrient-dense, therapeutic foods and have his nutrition and health status monitored closely until he regained his strength. Habiba also received regular health and nutrition education at the CNC to enable her to give Mohammed the follow-up care he needed. She was also given information on simple techniques she could use in her home to ensure he stays healthy like proper hand-washing before preparing meals and eating a balanced diet. Today, Mohammed is once again a healthy and energetic toddler and his mother is incredibly happy that she was able to find the resources to help her son.

“I thought that serving people food is a simple thing,” says Daniel, International Medical Corps’ Nutrition Manager at Dolo Ado. “(But) I have seen nutrition's impact on the vulnerable especially children under five years. With the support of International Medical Corps the children who have been malnourished get the coverage they need.”

In addition to our programs at Dolo Ado, International Medical Corps is also working in drought-affected regions throughout Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, as well as in the Dadaab complex in Kenya which is the largest refugee settlement in the world. Our relief programs include nutrition, water/sanitation/hygiene, primary health care, gender-based violence and protection, among other services.

Since its inception nearly 30 years ago, International Medical Corps’ mission has been consistent: relieve the suffering of those impacted by war, natural disaster and disease, by delivering vital health care services that focus on training. This approach of helping people help themselves is critical to returning devastated populations to self-reliance.

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