When 20-year-old Mohammed first arrived in Ethiopia’s Kobe Refugee Camp 6 months ago, he had never been employed, never been able to earn a salary, and had never received any formal education. A refugee from Northern Somalia, he had walked 6 days to escape the massive drought that has caused widespread suffering throughout the region. Soon after came what Mohammed described as “the turning point in my life.” International Medical Corps hired him as a Hygiene Promoter, a critical component to reducing the threat of communicable diseases in the crowded camps. Hygiene Promoters are trained by International Medical Corps and then share their knowledge throughout their communities, teaching others about proper hand washing techniques, the importance of using latrines, and properly cleaning jelly cans used to carry drinking water. Mohammed is one of many refugees in the Dolo Ado Camps we're training in hygiene promotion, as well as sanitation, nutrition and gender-based violence response, among other topics. The benefits are enduring: these trained Health Promoters multiply our efforts many times over, teaching others, providing sustainable health solutions within the camps. Plus, the program creates employment opportunities for families struggling to rebuild. Famine was officially declared in East Africa 6 months ago, and today an estimated 13.3 million people throughout Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya urgently need humanitarian relief. But these communities need more than a hand-out. They also need long-term solutions. By training and educating local men and women, we create a foundation to build a sustainable health care system for a healthier future. Says Mohammed: "...with the power of knowledge I have received through trainings on hygiene promotion, I am now able to improve sanitation and hygiene practices in my community. I now know that diarrhea can be prevented by using a latrine and by washing hands with soap and water and am in a position to pass on the message of safe hygiene practices and behaviors to my fellow community members. I will thank International Medical Corps one day when I reach home!"
After a massive humanitarian response, the UN recently announced that famine conditions are no longer present in Somalia. However, 1.7 million people still desperately need humanitarian relief to survive. In addition, food stocks in Somalia are expected to run low by May, adding to fears that the country could quickly slip back into crisis.
Working in East Africa since 1991, International Medical Corps will continue its lifesaving relief and recovery efforts, helping these vulnerable communities rebuild through training and education.
2012 is almost here and we would like to take a moment to thank you for supporting our emergency response efforts in East Africa. This year with the help of our amazing supporters, we were able to respond to the ongoing drought and famine in East Africa, as well as crises in Libya and Japan, while continuing our long-term recovery programs worldwide. You can see for yourself --click on the video below and hear firsthand from our staff on the frontlines, working in some of the most unstable and dangerous regions of the world. And as we look to the future, we hope we can count on your support again. Your generosity was crucial during our initial emergency response and it’s just as important now, as we work to help these devastated communities rebuild and recover. Please considering making a donation or using your new GlobalGiving gift card to help our rebuilding efforts. Your donation will help us start 2012 strong! On behalf of all of at International Medical Corps, thank you for your support.
GlobalGiving has announced an amazing opportunity and we need your help to make it happen!
Starting at October 19, 12:01 am EDT, GlobalGiving will match 30% of all online donations up to $1,000 per donor until the end of the day or when funds run out. In addition, GlobalGiving is offering a $1,000 bonus to the project that raises the most that day and a $1,000 bonus to the project that receives donations from the most individual donors.
Think about it: your gift of $40 becomes $52… $100 becomes $130…. $400 becomes $520…
But funds will run out quickly and we need you to act fast on October 19 to take advantage of this match before it’s too late.
With your support for Provide Lifesaving Relief to Drought Victims, International Medical Corps has:
In the past, your support has meant so much to countless men, women, and children in need. Now, you can give knowing that your donation will go 30% further and that 92 cents of every dollar you give goes to program-related activities.
Please – act soon and your donation could save lives.
Thank you. We know we can count on your support.
In the humanitarian world, there are the disasters you see coming, and the ones you don’t.We didn’t foresee the massive 2010 earthquake in Haiti … the devastating floods in Pakistan… the earthquake and tsunami in Japan… or the conflicts sweeping the Arab world.But the current drought and famine in East Africa? We saw that coming. The only question was how bad would it be?
The answer: very bad and getting worse.This crisis has now affected a staggering 12.4 million people – it has killed tens of thousands, and put 400,000 children at risk of starvation. Think about those numbers. Roll them around in your head.We saw this emergency unfolding 9 months ago when the rains began to fail, the harvests were poor, and food and fuel prices shot up. Families already facing scarce food resources suddenly had to make do with much less. Throw in more than 20 years of violent conflict in Somalia and you have approximately a million refugees crossing the borders into Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, seeking some sort of escape.Make no mistake, this is the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.But that’s the macro.Here’s the micro: a nine-month pregnant Somali woman, her two-year-old son, her husband, and his brother, journey many treacherous miles by foot across arid, forbidding desert to the Ethiopia border. There they wait to be processed. They wait outside for days in 100-degree heat and high winds that whip sand across their faces. Eventually they are bused to a refugee camp about 20 miles north, inside Ethiopia, where they are given a tent and a bit of food.They come to International Medical Corps’ nutrition center in the camp, by which time the mother is so weak from severe malnutrition that she can barely keep her eyes open or speak. She cannot hold her own son in her rail-thin arms, and childbirth may very likely kill her. Her husband has been too ill to come to the center. Her brother-in-law holds her child for her, but he too is so weak that when he stands his legs and arms shake from the strain and he is forced to sit down again. The child cradled in his arms is so severely malnourished that he is non-responsive, not uttering a sound.
People should not be suffering like this. I keep saying the same phrase over and over in my head: “This is not right.”Sadly, a crisis such as this has struck the region before: the famine in Ethiopia in 1984, famine and civil war in Somalia in 1991. These are horrific cycles that plague East Africa. While the government and communities have made great strides in mitigating the impact of these cycles, this year has seen a perfect storm of factors that are especially tough to combat.I was in Ethiopia during the “global food crisis” in 2008, and witnessed a tremendous amount of starvation, pain and suffering. And yet, that crisis was not nearly as severe as what’s happening today. It did not constitute what the humanitarian community defines as “famine” – the malnutrition and mortality rates were not at the levels they are now. When 1 in 1,000 people dies of malnutrition, that is considered a humanitarian emergency; right now, in the refugee camps where International Medical Corps and other NGOs are working, the mortality rates have hovered around 14 percent. Rates of severe malnutrition have been as high as 45 percent.In the face of these grim statistics, what are our solutions?I ask my colleague, Daniel, who runs our nutrition programs in the camps. A native of eastern Ethiopia, he has seen famine unfold here before. As he meets with new arrivals at the nutrition center, he is compassionate, but no-nonsense. One teenaged mother has brought in her 3-year-old severely malnourished son. His chest and ribcage protrude sharply over his distended belly, his limbs are twigs, he lets out a persistent, desperate hunger-wail. Daniel explains to the child’s mother that if he is not admitted to a stabilization center he will not survive - that milk is not enough, he needs therapeutic feedings.As Daniel reflects on the great suffering he has witnessed recently and in years past, he also vividly remembers the victories. He recalls when he first began doing nutrition work in the early ‘90s, and himself was learning how to care for people and pass on skills. One woman in particular he remembers brought in two malnourished children for treatment – along with a third who she said was disabled, his arms and legs completely rigid and unmovable. All three children underwent therapeutic feedings. Suddenly one day, the disabled child straightened his arms and legs, and stood up. Daniel realized this child was not disabled; he was severely malnourished and needed proper nutrients to reverse the paralysis in his limbs. Witnessing and learning from this recovery proved a seminal moment for him – and to this day provides him with the hope that education can and will save lives.Fighting back tears, Daniel says simply: “That was a day when I felt really good about my work. I will never forget it. Never.”
Actress and International Medical Corps Global Ambassador Sienna Miller returned this week from visiting International Medical Corps’ nutrition programs in the Dolo Ado camps in eastern Ethiopia, an area largely inaccessible by media. More than 120,000 Somalis - 30 percent of whom are malnourished - are seeking refuge here from the crippling effects of drought, famine, and conflict. With six regions of Somalia now facing famine, Miller is calling for greater attention to the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today where more than 12.4 million people throughout East Africa require relief.
“Without immediate humanitarian intervention, more than 390,000 children are at risk of starvation,” said Miller. “International Medical Corps is on the ground providing emergency nutrition services and health care to vulnerable populations in Ethiopia as well as in Kenya and Somalia, but they will need ongoing support to meet the massive needs, which are only expected to expand in the coming months. Ongoing support will literally make the difference between life and death for thousands of children in Ethiopia, and throughout the region.”
Having worked since 1991 in Somalia, International Medical Corps is reaching affected populations with nutrition and water, sanitation, and hygiene programs to provide a multi-faceted approach to the crisis. In Sool and Sanaag regions, the organization, with support from UNICEF, screened 11,500 children and admitted 679 children in outpatient therapeutic program sites for advanced nutrition care. Teams also distributed micro-nutrient supplements for 4,850 pregnant and lactating mothers. In addition, trainings were conducted for Ministry of Health staff on community mobilization, nutrition screening, vaccination, and referrals.
At the Dolo Ado camps in Ethiopia, International Medical Corps, in partnership with the Ethiopian Government’s Administration for Refugee and Returnee Affairs (ARRA), is providing supplementary feeding services for malnourished people, including the provision of nutrient-dense therapeutic foods. To date, approximately 5,000 children and pregnant and lactating women have undergone nutritional screening and referred to the appropriate level of therapeutic care. Teams also constructed 136 latrines and washrooms with 200 more planned and launched a hygiene campaign to thwart the spread of communicable disease in the overcrowded camps.
At Kambioos refugee camp in Kenya, a part of the Dadaab Complex which is today the largest refugee camp in the world, International Medical Corps is working in partnership with AmeriCares to implement a field hospital with nutrition services and a maternity center. In addition, in Samburu, Isiolo, Tana River and Laikipia districts in Kenya, International Medical Corps has been working in partnership with UNICEF to deliver high-impact nutrition interventions in existing health facilities and at the community level. The organization is scaling up existing programs to support 154 health facilities and planning expansion of feeding points within these drought affected areas.
For more detailed information about International Medical Corps’ drought and famine response throughout East Africa, please visit: http://internationalmedicalcorps.org/page.aspx?pid=1348
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.
Resource Development Officer