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1 in 2 children undersized by chronic malnutrition in southern Somalia: Report

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Jan 13, 2022 - 03:22 AM

MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) – Save The Children announced Wednesday that one in two children in southern Somalia is undersized by chronic malnutrition because of an ongoing deadly drought that has devastated many in the country.

“Nearly half of children under five in the Baidoa district of southern Somalia are suffering from chronic malnutrition, impeding their physical and mental growth,” the UK-based charity said in a statement.

Figures indicate the severe effect of the prolonged and worsening drought, and diminishing capacity of families to provide adequate food to infants, according to the group.

“Somalia’s ongoing drought is expected to worsen in coming months,” it said.

The chronic malnutrition in Southern Somalia, especially in Baidoa, increased 30% in 2019 and 48% in 2021, according to Save The Children.

Chronic malnutrition is caused by poor nutrition, repeated infections and a lack of psychosocial stimulation in the first years of a child’s life and it is linked to irreversible long-term outcomes, including impaired intellectual development.

Currently, more than 90% of Somalia is in a drought, with the southern and central areas worst-affected, according to international humanitarian organizations.

The drought has destroyed livestock and farms, dried up waterholes and led to hunger and displacement.

The UN allocated $17M on Monday to the worsening drought.

Insecurity and conflict resulted in the displacement of 777,000 people in Somalia last year, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Agency said in a statement late Monday.

“Overall, more than 2.9M people are displaced within the country – one of the highest figures in the world,” it said.

Most of the internally displaced live in precarious conditions and need assistance to survive.

The UN said the Shabelle River had reached historically low levels because of drought, forcing the agency to issue an alert.

More than 7.7 million people in Somalia, nearly half of its population, will need humanitarian assistance, according to the UN.

Somalia is facing one of the worst climate change-related droughts in decades.

The presidency told Anadolu Agency in late December that the country is facing climate hazards although it has not contributed to carbon emissions, and blamed industrialized nations for the climate change that the Horn of Africa nation is facing.

Last November, Prime minister Mohamed Hussein Roble declared the situation as a “national humanitarian emergency.”

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