The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) first began operating aid in Somalia back in 1977. Today, one of our Duke political science undergraduates, Rajiv Golla, is reporting from Nairobi on the ICRC Conference for Reuters about the current state of malnutrition and the consequences of the recent drought in Somalia.
Rains in Somalia have brought relief from drought but malnutrition remains a threat, the International Red Cross said on Friday, with the number of children admitted to its feeding centres nationwide nearly doubling over the last year.
Somalia is coming out of a severe drought that meant more than half its 12 million citizens were expected to need aid by July. Families have been forced to drink slimy, infected water after the rains failed and wells and rivers dried up.
But rains began in parts of the country in the second week of April and have since spread to most areas.
The rains will allow farmers to plant crops as well as grass for the livestock that sustain Somalia's nomadic families, although the long drought has already wiped out livestock herds and forced many farmers to seek aid in cities.
"Even if the rains are good, this is not going to change the situation immediately. There will be significant needs in terms of strengthening the livelihoods and resilience of people over a period of time," Dominik Stillhart, ICRC head of global operations, told a news conference in Nairobi.
ICRC said a feeding centre it runs in Baidoa has 230 patients under the age of five, up from 100 a year ago, while countrywide, the number of malnourished children at its stabilisation centres and those run by the Somali Red Crescent Society had shot up 80 percent, to 12,710.