Solidarity with the Horn of Africa – An Update

November 7, 2011

The Horn of Africa is currently experiencing a food crisis linked to the region’s worst drought in 60 years and also to the rising prices of basic foodstuffs and the conflict that has been tearing Somalia apart for years.

13.3 million people need humanitarian aid in four countries in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya), where there are 841,130 refugees.

© UNICEF / Modola

These populations are affected by problems resulting from an unusually severe drought and the resulting displacements of communities: the problem of access to safe water and food in general, and the particular problem of malnutrition.

According to the Early Warning System (EWS) against famine, the food crisis in the Horn of Africa is likely to continue until at least December 2011 due to the severity of the drought and lack of rain. In southern Somalia, estimates suggest that the food crisis may extend into the first quarter of 2012

Four months after the beginning of the humanitarian crisis, our partners UNICEF and AMREF are still on the ground trying to help those most affected by malnutrition and lack of care, especially children.

The assistance provided by Sanofi Hope Foundation to UNICEF in the healthcare field has been mainly focused on Somalia, the epicenter of the crisis.

To help children affected by the crisis, UNICEF has sent five tons of supplies (therapeutic foods, drugs) since last June as well as equipment to improve water supplies in Baidoa (South-West of Somalia). UNICEF is working with local Health Ministries, the World Food Programme, NGOs and international organizations, mainly to maintain routine immunization campaigns, stepping up access to drinking water programs, and improving sanitation facilities in the camps.

For the next 6 months, the priority healthcare actions in the Somalia include:

  • Providing technical support (training health workers) and logistic solutions (e.g. vaccines, basic equipment, essential drugs) at more than 200 clinics for maternal and child health and 100 healthcare centers (target: reach out to 2.5 million women and children).
    • To date: 3,420 medical kits have been distributed to 150 health centers for mothers and children as well as 300 healthcare and prevention programs in schools.
  • To extend immunization coverage against measles to 2.5 million children aged from 6 months to 15.
    • To date:
          • 694,000 children (6 months-15 years) were vaccinated against measles,
          • 3,150,000 children (under 5) were vaccinated against polio.
      A vaccination campaign to eliminate measles in Mogadishu is scheduled for October 26 to 28 and November 1 to 3 2011 targeting 16 districts of the city and 750,000 children (6 months-15 years).
  • Providing Vitamin A supplements for more than 1 million children aged 6 to 59 months.
    • To date: 668,600 children (6 months-15 years) have received Vitamin A tablets.
  • Deworming 900 000 children aged between 12 and 59 months.
    • To date: 13,197 children aged between 12 and 59 months have received deworming.
  • Ensure each month the therapeutic management of at least 17,000 children with severe acute malnutrition by means of technical and logistical support to 200 intensive nutritional rehabilitation programs located in the south (Target: 200,000 children over the next 6 months).
    • To date: 70,000 malnourished children have been cared for in southern Somalia.
Support from the Sanofi Espoir Foundation to its partner AMREF has enabled the development of healthcare activities in the Makueni District in Kenya

Three medical rounds covered the area in question, and the clinics in Yimwaa and Syumile. The populations targeted by these actions have benefited the following services:

  • Immunization: All children under 5 received vaccinations against measles, pneumococcal vaccination, and further tetanus toxoid vaccination for women of childbearing age.
  • Improving maternal and child health: a prenatal and postnatal consultation department was set up, including a family planning service, and actions against the transmission of HIV/AIDS from mother to child, 80 scales for measuring the growth of children have been distributed, and 350 measuring tapes measure the circumference of the arm were distributed in an effort to screen for malnutrition in children.
  • Preventing diseases related to poor sanitation and unsafe water: treated mosquito nets have been distributed and deworming campaigns carried out. 141,146 chlorine tablets to purify water were provided. The schools received tins to encourage hand washing, and technical evaluation were made for the construction of shallow wells at several sites.
  • Education in emergencies: 10 “trainer” trainers have been empowered to implement hygiene measures in emergencies, and educate and mobilize the community through various training meetings.
  • Distribution of nutritional supplements: Vitamin A in four clinics.

Activities planned for the coming months:

  • New medical rounds for the provision of quality healthcare services.
  • Support to the Ministry of Health in the distribution of food and nutritional supplements for children.
  • The distribution and installation of plastic water tanks and water tanker trucks for schools and several communities.
  • Completing the ongoing well construction and installing water pumps.

The Horn of Africa has a drastic need for a good rainy season (October to December 2011) to help improve food security in the affected areas of Kenya and Ethiopia.