This post was written by Jennifer Nielsen, HKI’s Senior Program Manager for Nutrition and Health. It is part of a series of blogs organized by The Huffington Post and the NGO alliance InterAction to call attention to the crisis in the Sahel, a region in sub-Saharan Africa where more than 18 million people face starvation and 1.1 million children under the age of 5 are at risk of dying from acute malnutrition.
Although my e-mail is flooded with messages detailing the political, economic and climactic forces precipitating a hunger crisis in the Sahel, the story is strikingly absent from the news reaching most Americans. But because my work in the region has helped me see these vulnerable families as if they were my own, I am anguished by the situation.
Thousands of children require treatment for severe malnutrition.
A post by Issakha Diop, who is responding to the crisis in the Horn of Africa on behalf of Helen Keller International.
I am currently stationed in northeastern Kenya (260 miles northeast of Nairobi and 46 miles west of Somalia) at Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world. It was designed to provide temporary shelter for the 90,000 people fleeing from Somalia’s civil war in early 1990. As the war, drought, and insecurity continued in Somalia, the three camps in Dadaab – Ifo, Hagadera and Dagahaley – became home for over 450,000 people.
Today, 1,000 to 1,500 new people arrive each day because of the current drought and food crisis in East Africa.
Little Abdulay Sahal Mohamed from Somalia arrived with his family five days ago. His entire family – his parents and six other siblings – walked for 21 days before reaching a reception point at the Kenya/Somalia border to be transported to Dadaab by UNHCR.
This post was written by Issakha Diop, Helen Keller International’s West Africa coordinator for community-based management of acute malnutrition. In response to the crisis in East Africa, he has been seconded to UNICEF’s regional nutrition team.
The response to the crisis in the Horn of Africa has many dimensions. One of the responsibilities that my colleagues and I have is to ensure that the programs are implemented according to globally accepted standards.
Children in crisis, who have been deprived of adequate nutritious foods, are not only at risk of disease, but enter into a state of wasting as their bodies rapidly lose weight. Children who are severely wasted are 9 to 10 times more likely to die: they often lose their appetites, their bellies swell, and they are prone to a range of infections and micronutrient deficiencies. To help these children, we must screen them as soon as possible for malnutrition – and this screening must be done properly.
This is the second post by Jessica Blankenship, Ph.D., Helen Keller International’s Regional Micronutrient Advisor, as she chronicles HKI’s ongoing work in Kenya.
In the US, access to basic health care is seldom a concern in our daily lives. While equity of health care is under debate, there is no disagreement that children in the US do not often die from diarrhea, measles, malaria and pneumonia. In sub-Saharan Africa, however, these diseases cause 50% of under five child deaths or 4.5 deaths every minute of every day.
HKI helps implement a program providing daily food rations to those in need
This post was written by Jessica Blankenship, Ph.D., Helen Keller International’s Regional Micronutrient Advisor.
It is only a two-hour flight to Lodwar in the Turkana District of Kenya from Nairobi; however the differences between the two cities are striking. Lodwar is the capital of the arid district of Turkana, and the only reliable method to reach the town is by air as the roads leading from Nairobi have been battered by seasonal rains and years of neglect. Despite being the largest district in Kenya, Turkana is sparsely populated; bordered by the countries of Uganda, South Sudan and Ethiopia, it is mostly populated by pastoralists who graze their goats and camels on the sandy soil.
This post was written by Shawn Baker, HKI’s vice president and regional director for Africa.
Arriving in the capital of Kenya, Nairobi, it is hard to imagine the gravity of the food and nutrition crisis hitting the Horn of Africa region. Nairobi is a bustling commercial hub for all of East Africa and seems far removed from the horrific images from Somalia and other affected countries. But reading the newspapers and working with partners such as the Kenyan Ministry of Health, UNICEF, World Food Program and Save the Children – you are quickly caught up in the urgency of the response. Nairobi is home to many of the agencies responding to the crisis in Kenya, and most organizations that are working in Somalia also base their operations here.
Understanding the food crisis’ effect on nutrition
This post was written by HKI’s Vice President and Regional Director for Africa, Shawn Baker.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization recently announced that food prices have hit a record high. This new surge in food prices has garnered considerable media attention. From articles in the Guardian to The New York Times, people are discussing the reasons for this increase and the effect it will have on the world’s population. Many even think high food prices have sparked the recent wave of political upheaval across North Africa. However, very little attention has been paid to the far more devastating and pernicious impact that the increase in food prices is having on the general public.
A famine in Niger is threatening the lives of nearly 400,000 children.
Right now a humanitarian crisis is devastating the lives of millions. But you may not have heard of it. It’s neither the terrible earthquake in Haiti nor the destructive flooding in Pakistan. In the fragile country of Niger, located in sub-Saharan Africa, a food crisis – a famine actually – is affecting over 7 million people, or half of the country’s total population. Children – as many as 400,000 − are dying from starvation and diseases exacerbated by malnutrition.