Save the Children Federation

Save the Children is the world's leading independent organization for children. Our vision is a world in which every child attains the right to survival, protection, development and participation. Our mission is to inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives.
Feb 21, 2012

Spotlight on Merlin's work in Somalia

Families in Moro Dile
Families in Moro Dile

Highlighting the Food Crisis in Somalia

Over the last seven months Merlin’s emergency response in Somalia has seen successfully saving lives, kept families from being severe malnourished and seen a huge increase rise in support offered to local health workers. 

Health Facilities - Before the food crisis Merlin supported 15 health facilities.

Now, Merlin supports 27 (6 in South Central and 9 in Puntland) and we plan to increase our spread even further over the next few months.

Outreach sites (mobile clinics) - Before the food crisis Merlin supported 20 health facilities.

Now, Merlin supports 50 (40 in South Central and 10 in Puntland) with a plan to increase this number further in Quarter 1, 2012.

By the end of 2011:

  • Focusing on communities living in very remote villages, 15,734 children under five and 6,145 pregnant women and new mothers were screened for malnutrition.
  • Of the 15,734 children, 774 were diagnosed with severe, acute malnutrition.  These children were offered outpatient therapeutic feeding: when a child stays with their family and is fed a high calorie, peanut paste called ‘Plumpy Nut’ with added nutrients.  Only one child died.
  • At remote health facilities Merlin staff support to local health workers to offer basic primary health care including vaccinations, nutrition and water and sanitation services, such as lessons on hygiene, sanitation supplies (Aquatabs, soap, chlorine and containers) and safe motherhood clinics.
  • Over 155,660 patient consultations were offered, the top illnesses included respiratory infections, intestinal parasites and anemia.
  • Community health workers completed 560 health education sessions to over 68,590 people, covering subjects such as, why vaccinating their children is important to protect them from illness and encouraging women to give birth at health facilities with trained maternity staff.
  • 84 local health staff trained on managing acute malnutrition and nutrition services.
  • 50 Community Health Workers trained (one male and one female health worker in 25 rural villages).
  • Essential disease outbreak kits have been pre-positioned, for immediate response.

Summary

In Oct 2011, nutrition and mortality surveys indicated extremely high levels of global, acute malnutrition (GAM), rates were between 20 and 34.5%.  Severe, acute malnutrition (SAM) was between 6 and 11%, compared to the ‘normal’ levels of 15.9% (GAM) and 4.9% (SAM), for this time of year.  The number of children dying each month fell at the end of 2011.  However, levels are still high, with up to 8 children out of every 10,000 dying each day.   

On Nov 28, 2011 the Somali group which control  southern and central Somalia areas, banned 16 humanitarian agencies including: UNICEF, Concern Worldwide, World Health Organisation and several other UN agencies.  Most of these groups have been working in the region since the last famine in the 1990s.  Their dismissal has caused large gaps in aid coverage and access to the strong tribal systems that exist.  Merlin and other agencies that remain, are working hard to quickly establish and build relationships to continue an effective aid program.

Money transfers from Diaspora Somali groups have to date kept many Somali families from hunger and starvation.  The US Dept. Of Treasury estimates annual transfers from the US alone, is close to $100 million.

In 2012, the number of Somalis facing starvation - those who will die if not offered assistance - has fallen from 750,000 to 250,000.  This means that there are still a quarter of a million of men, women and children in dire need of help.

Merlin’s Promise

Merlin will continue to work in Somali for as long as we are permitted, offering health care and nutrition to some of the world’s most vulnerable people. 

If you are able to offer your continued support, via a second or recurring gift, we will use it effectively to save lives.

Thank you for your interest in our work.

Waiting for help
Waiting for help
A Somali family on the Ethiopian border
A Somali family on the Ethiopian border

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Feb 8, 2012

A Dangerous Delay

More than 13 million people are still affected by the crisis in the Horn of Africa. There were clear early warning signs many months in advance, yet there was insufficient response until it was far too late. 

Governments, donors, the UN and NGOs need to change their approach to chronic drought situations by managing the risks, not the crisis. 

This means acting on information from early warning systems and not waiting for certainty before responding, as well as tackling the root causes of vulnerability and actively seeking to reduce risk in all activities. To achieve this, we must overcome the humanitarian–development divide.

The emergency in the Horn of Africa in 2011 was no sudden-onset crisis. Thanks to sophisticated early warning systems (EWS), there were clear indications of the impending drought and its consequences.

Forecasts of the impending crisis started in August 2010, as changing weather conditions linked to the La Niña phenomenon were confirmed. These predictions became more strident in early November 2010, when the October to December short rains were forecast to be poor. This prediction was accurate, prompting the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group for East Africa (FSNWG) to set up a La Niña task force.

In December 2010, it stated that ‘pre-emptive action is needed to protect livelihoods and avoid later costly lifesaving emergency interventions’ and called on the humanitarian community (donors, UN, NGOs) ‘to be prepared now at country level.’

Early action is more costeffective. In the 2004–2005 Niger emergency, WFP's initial food deliveries in February 2005 cost $7 per beneficiary, but the response to the appeal was weak; by August the Niger situation had reached crisis,
money began to flow, but the cost per beneficiary had risen to $23.

Multi-agency scenario planning took place in February 2011. A Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) food security alert dated 15 March made it clear that the current situation was already alarming and would deteriorate further if the March to May rains were as poor as expected. It stated that even average rains would lead to a critical food security situation until May or June, and predicted ‘localized famine conditions [in southern Somalia], including significantly increased child mortality… if the worst case scenario assumptions are realized’.

The FSNWG also warned that ‘failure of the March to May rains is likely to result in a major crisis’. At this stage,
humanitarian actors were advised to begin large-scale contingency/respon planning immediately, and to implement expanded multi-sectoral programmming. Yet this call was not adequately heeded.

The national response 
In Ethiopia and Kenya, major investment in national early warning systems over the past decade has improved the quality of information available. The governments in both countries play leading roles in identifying needs and coordinating the overall response. Arguably, the response was more efficient than the response to previous droughts, reflecting learning and investments made since the last drought, but challenges remain.

In Ethiopia, early action did take place across a number of sectors. For example, the government’s Agricultural Task Force, supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), developed a road map for interventions in early 2011. However, government figures on the number of people needing assistance published in February 2011 were among the lowest in recent years (2.8 million). These figures were revised upwards in April, and again in July, to 4.5 million people. Donors have expressed concern that this underestimated the actual numbers of people in need, particularly in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples (SNNP) region, and that the
lack of timely, accurate information on the scale of need makes it more difficult to access resources from headquarters.
 
Ethiopia’s Productive Safety Net Programme (PSNP) used its 20 per cent contingency budget, and the Risk Financing Mechanism was also triggered in September 2011 to extend the food provision period for PSNP beneficiaries.

The NGO consortium Joint Emergency Operation Plan (JEOP) was scaled up and extended through 2011. This allowed for an increased number of beneficiaries (more than 300,000 ‘additional transitory’ beneficiaries) as well as
extended help to 6.5m existing PSNP beneficiaries.

Links:

Feb 8, 2012

Getting to Great for Girls

Raya is reaching for excellence in education.
Raya is reaching for excellence in education.

Thanks to your support, Save the Children is inspiring breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and achieving immediate and lasting change in children’s lives by ensuring that they are safe, educated and healthy.

Raya, a 14-year-old Egyptian girl, had always dreamed of attending school, but her father did not believe that women should have a role outside of the home. While reaching manhood is an empowering transition for boys, in many parts of the world, womanhood is quite the opposite.

One hundred million girls in developing countries are taken out of school early to become wives and mothers, with the result that, globally, more than 529 million women are illiterate. This is a great waste of human potential, and the evidence strongly supports the fact that empowering adolescent girls is the key to lifting families out of poverty, empowering communities and perhaps changing the course of an entire nation.

Save the Children is opening doors for girls in more than 15 countries by increasing their access to education, sexual and reproductive health, and training in financial literacy and life skills. One successful program for girls is Ishraq in Egypt.

Ishraq (meaning ‘enlightenment’ in Arabic) is a “second chance” program for out-of-school adolescent girls, most of whom have never attended school or are illiterate. More than 1,000 girls who participate in Ishraq literacy classes are eager to learn: In 2010, 83 percent of the graduates passed the government literacy test and 67 percent entered
formal education programs. Save the Children is now working to bring Ishraq to more than 300 youth centers across the country.

When the Save the Children program promoter came to Raya’s house to tell the family about Ishraq, Raya was thrilled. At first, her father said no, but he eventually relented when Raya’s uncle joined the chorus. Raya has become the first literate female in her family and her father is proud. “Now I am a better person because I know how to read and write, thanks to Ishraq,” she said.

Save the Children’s goal is to bring girls out of the shadows. Through Ishraq and similar Save the Children programs worldwide, girls have the opportunity to achieve their full social and economic potential.

Support Save the Children

Charitable contributions from people like you make it possible for us to support programs for girls like Selena, and so much more. Please support our mission and work around the world with a gift to our Global Action Fund. You can count on us to be good stewards of your generous donation, helping vulnerable children where the need is greatest with whatever they need the most.

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