Somalia Famine Far From Over, but Baby’s Survival Gives Aid Workers Hope

A child is checked for indication of edema, which is a symptom of malnutrition. According to UNICEF, around 168,0000 acutely malnourished children under five could die within weeks in Somalia. Photo by: Geno Teofilo / Oxfam / CC BY-NC-ND

For aid workers, seven-month-old Minhaj Gedi Farah’s recovery from malnutrition is a beacon of hope in famine-hit Somalia.

Minhaj gained back his health after weeks of intensive feeding of Plumpy’nut, a kind of sweetened peanut butter packed with nutrients. Today, he weighs 8 kilograms and can crawl and sit without support.

Sirat Amin, a nurse-nutritionist with the International Rescue Committee who kept track of Minhaj’s progress, said seeing children like Minhaj recover gives him the strength to go on.

But Minhaj is only one of the thousands of children in Somali who suffer malnutrition in Somalia. According to UNICEF, around 168,0000 acutely malnourished children under five could die within weeks.

“The famine is not over … Children are dying on a daily basis,” said Hannan Sulieman, UNICEF’s deputy representative for the Somalia mission. “Malnutrition has been way above emergency levels for over 10 years.”

The United Nations has only received $779 million of its $1 billion appeal for the Somalia famine. Moreover, recent heavy rain, cross-border fighting and the militant group al-Shabab have prevented aid workers from providing food assistance to those who are starving.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.

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