children are not fully benefitting from UN-supplied rations
to drought-hit southern Somalia because parents are having
to share the food with the rest of the family, said aid officials
and local people.
As a result,
children in the southern Somali town of Wajid, in Bakol region
were not gaining weight despite being put on high-protein
diet, said officials. "I cannot feed a single child and leave
the other members of the family to starve. When I receive
relief food for the malnourished baby, the whole of my family
shares it," Amina Mohamed told a visiting AFP reporter at
a crowded feeding centre in Wajid.
spoke, her four-year-old son, Abdi Aden, cried for food, as
they stood on the long queue to receive a share of high-energy
biscuits donated by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF).
for the food we receive for our child from the feeding centre,
we cannot afford anything else and have to survive on water,"
another mother said. Each malnourished child is given 10 kilogrammes
(22 pounds) of porridge a month and high-protein biscuits.
children should have gained weight if the families in Wajid
had some kind of food for other family members, but everybody
is relying on the supplementary food donated for malnourished
children," UNICEF's Jonathan Veitch lamented. According to
UNICEF, Somalia has one of the highest infant and child mortality
rate in the world, with diarrhoea, respiratory infections
and malaria being the main killers, and neonatal tetanus and
measles also taking a heavy toll.
is another killer in Wajid, where most victims are women,
children and the elderly, local health officials told AFP.
Farmers in Wajid's surrounding villages look expectantly at
the blue skies, hoping the long rains, known here as the Gu
season, will soon start.
of them have no seeds or food to eat until the next harvest
in about three months, although aid agencies are planning
to distribute seeds before the rains. Livestock have either
starved to death for lack of pasture and water, or their owners
have sold them, leaving most nomadic families destitute. Wajid
is relatively peaceful compared to other towns in war-ravaged
has a small police station where 14 people are being detained
on suspicion of theft and fighting.
wells in Wajid provide sufficient water for the inhabitants,
but in surrounding villages, people and animals fight for
dirty, stagnant water from the roadsides, which carries the
risk of disease. Years of bad harvests, caused by low rainfall
and the ravages of the war, have left people in southern Somalia
with no food stocks, Wajid elder Shiekh Abdi Mohamed Aden
the most powerful will help, but this time we need the help
from his people as well. I have not eaten for two days," Aden
Food Programme (WFP) will soon start a food-for-work project
involving, among other activities, improvement of sanitation
and sinking of water wells. "The WFP will provide 2,000 tonnes
of food for work in Bakol region, while the more populous
neighbouring Bay region will receive 2,500 tonnes," said WFP
programme coordinator in Wajid, Edward Kallon.
said the programmes would help ease present food shortages
in southern Somalia and stop displacement of people and their
migration to neighbouring Ethiopia, which itself is threatened
quantities of food have been stock-piled in the northeastern
Kenyan town of Mandera for distribution in southern Somalia
and the drought-stricken Ogaden region of eastern Ethiopia,