Somalia is facing a severe hunger crisis and civil conflict spanning generations creating mass displacement. Infrastructure has been largely destroyed, health services are nearly nonexistent, and livelihoods and educational systems have been disrupted for years. Due to these factors, the nation has one of the highest malnutrition rates in the world and a high prevalence of communicable diseases.
Relief International, in partnership with donors from Global Giving, is providing life-saving nutritional and health services with a strong emphasis on building long-term capacities of health staffs and services. Specifically, Relief International is training health providers, midwives, and community health workers in reproductive health care, nutrition screening, and proper management of malnutrition. Training includes the improvement of detection, monitoring, and reporting of disease outbreaks. In an effort to advance change in health and nutrition practices, Relief International is also training local community health and hygiene promoters to better engage the community in adopting safer health and hygiene habits.
Due to the high price of charcoal, Somalis typically burn wood for cooking fuel while balancing a pot on a few stones. This cooking method gives off unhealthy fumes. Women and children, as the primary wood collectors, travel farther and farther to find scarce wood. These treks expose them to danger and violence. With the introduction of fuel efficient stoves, Relief International is working to mitigate environmental and health degradation and improve the protection of women and children. Relief International is ensuring a sustainable distribution of stoves by providing support to local Somali community wholesalers and retailers targeting a total of 20,000 internally displaced persons. Lastly, Relief International is supporting sustainable livelihoods for 400 Somalis through the manufacturing of biomass briquettes as an alternative fuel source.
The average primary school enrollment rate in Somalia is 27.9 percent. Only 60 percent of children entering school make it past grade four and over 80 percent of Somali adults are illiterate. To combat illiteracy and poor enrollment rates, Relief International has created sustainable education programs. This includes the organization of extracurricular activities and the rehabilitation of school water and sanitation facilities. Relief International is in the process of renovating and building of 71 primary schools and 24 adult learning centers.
Most importantly, Relief International is focused upon building the capacities of local Somali communities and organizations to empower its own people with tools to find solutions, sustain their livelihoods, and become resilient to further crises. Even though the famine in the Horn of Africa has fallen off the radar of popular media, we must not forget the daily struggles and hardships of the Somali people.