Horn of Africa Famine Relief

by Relief International

Relief International’s work in Somalia ensures that families suffering from the effects of famine receive life-saving relief. But, our work also focuses upon the long-term development of their communities. Beyond addressing emergency health and malnutrition, Relief International‘s projects aim to ensure that children continue their education, that women and girls are protected and healthy, and the rebuilding of families’ livelihoods.

In partnership with Global Giving, Relief International is providing health and nutrition services specially targeting mothers and young children. Relief International’s nutrition and primary healthcare project operates in 13 locations in the Mudug region of Somalia focusing on efforts train community nutrition outreach workers to identify and screen children for acute malnutrition early on so children can recover and get back to health quicker. Nutrition education is an important part of our program and our outreach works train mothers on topics such as: appropriate infant and young child feeding practices, diarrhea treatment and about the importance of exclusive breastfeeding. Our health and nutrition project targets a total of 2,578 severely malnourished children, of which more than half are girls.

Relief International’s primary education activities focus upon improving the quality of teaching, enhancing participation, and access for children through our primary education programs across five regions of central Somalia. Our project activities include: the construction of classrooms; the building of water points and sanitation facilities for schools; establishing teaching resource centers and sports facilities for children;  promoting interschool competitions; and supporting the establishment of community education committees and student clubs. This project supports 21 primary schools and targets a total of 8,516 children.

Another innovative part of our work in Somalia includes our fuel-efficient stoves pilot project that is introducing fuel-efficient stoves to families living in camps in Mogadishu, Galkayo and Afgooye . Through fuel-efficient stoves, families will be reducing their fuel consumption, improving their respiratory health, and reducing competition for scare wood fuel resources-- resources that are mainly collected by women and girls. Most of all, this project aims to protect Somali women and girls who put themselves at risk everyday when collecting firewood, as they are vulnerable to violence on these long treks. Through this project, Relief International is distributing 20,000 fuel-efficient stoves to internally displaced and host community families.

The staff at Relief International would like to thank you for your support through Global Giving. Let’s continue to make a positive impact in the lives of Somali families and not only provide life-saving relief and save children from malnutrition—but create opportunity and help Somalis rebuild their lives so their children can see a brighter future.


Your continued support has helped save lives and recover livelihoods of families affected by the worst drought to hit Somalia in 60 years. Beyond famine relief, your support has saved the lives of mothers and children, ensuring that they see a better future—from life-saving health care the moment they are born until the time children are ready to go off to school.

In partnership with GlobalGiving, Relief International is providing life-saving health and nutritional services to expectant mothers and children. In Somalia, a mother dying in childbirth is common, due to factors such as a lack of antenatal care available during pregnancy. Prenatal healthcare is key in preventing problems that may arise due to complications in birth and in ensuring the health of the mother and her unborn child. In September alone, Relief International clinics screened 101 Somali mothers over the span of three antenatal care visits, resulting in 18 successful deliveries with zero complications. This past fall, Relief International saved over 125 children who were suffering from severe acute malnutrition.

Relief International is working to increase access to primary education for Somali youth and create gender equality in education for women by making basic education resources more accessible. Recently, Relief International furnished and equipped 8 adult learning centers, installed solar panels on 6 primary schools to provide electricity, and trained 12 counselors to support street children’s educational needs in 4 reintegration centers. This past October, three books written in Somali were printed for distribution along with picture charts, letter blocks, abacuses, and supplementary reading books that were distributed to schools. In the 8 adult learning centers, there are currently 2637 students enrolled, where 1801 of these students are women working through the strength of education to empower themselves.

Supplying Somali women and children with tools to rebuild their livelihoods is the key to transforming this crisis, creating sustainable development, and eradicating poverty. The holiday season is fast approaching, families, mothers, and their children around the Horn of Africa are still in dire need. Let’s continue to give them hope for their future.

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.

Relief International (RI) has been on the frontlines of development efforts in Somalia since 2007.  When the UN declared that Somalia was in a state of famine, Relief International was one of the first humanitarian organizations to respond to the crisis.  Since then, in partnership with donors from GlobalGiving, Relief International has been hard at work disbursing immediate aid; and now, RI is shifting efforts to development programming, addressing the issues of healthcare and nutrition in Somalia in the long-term. 

Facing the largest and most severe food and nutrition crisis in the world today, four million people in Somalia require immediate food assistance. Low availability of and accessibility to food, quality of diet, incorrect infant feeding practices and micronutrient deficiencies have lead to high rates of malnutrition in vulnerable communities—and particularly, in children.  In parts of South Somalia, health services are virtually nonexistent, and the few available facilities have limited accessibility and constrained supply.  

Relief International’s Health and Nutrition Intervention is a sustainable, solution-oriented program that builds the capacity of local partners and institutions to facilitate the continuation of effective long-term programming for the Somali people. Through its efforts, Relief International is reaching 36,503 drought and conflict-affected individuals, including 18,297 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).  RI is also preventing and controlling epidemic-prone and communicable diseases, providing measles immunization coverage and other basic life-saving health services to over 35,000 beneficiaries.

In the short-term, Relief International’s health and nutritional services are reducing morbidity and mortality in Somalia.  With the focus on sustainable development programming, RI is now building household resilience and local capacity for the long-term, as well.  Relief International’s goal is to ultimately leave the Health and Nutrition programs in the hands of the people, making a lasting difference and empowering communities in Somalia to take ownership of the solution.

When the UN declared that Somalia was in a state of famine last July, Relief International, being on the front lines of development efforts in the country since 2007 was one of the first responders to the crisis.  Since then RI in partnership with donors from GlobalGiving, has been hard at work disbursing of immediate aid in addition to implementation of long–term programs to fight the three distinct characteristics of famine: extremely widespread food insecurity, acute malnutrition rates above 30 percent, and exceptionally high rates of mortality. 

RI’s Nutrition and Primary Health Care Service has been a leading initiative in reducing acute malnutrition and under five mortality in the most vulnerable area of southern Somalia.  We have made primary health and nutrition care services more accessible and are using our basic education initiatives as an informative platform to encourage locals to utilize the services.  RI’s Sustainable Water, Sanitation, And Hygiene (WASH) program is not only making clean water more attainable, but is contributing to the realization of the positive effects improved access to clean water has on the protection and economic well being of women, children and elderly people. 

On February 3, 2012, the UN announced that the official famine in Somalia is now over, yet mortality and malnutrition rates are above the threshold in many locations of Somalia. In Mongadishu four out of 20 children displaced are acutely malnourished. “Our greatest error now would be to consider this situation as resolved and let the compassion we felt at the height of the emergency in August of 2011 wane.  It is important to recognize that now is an opportunity to continue the fragile recovery, to rebuild the livelihoods and assets, and to provide the resilience needed against future climatic shocks.”- Eric Anderson, Relief International Senior Program officer. 



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Organization Information

Relief International

Location: Los Angeles, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.ri.org
Relief International
Project Leader:
Natalie Marinkovich
Los Angeles, CA United States

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