Action Against Hunger responds to looming famine in Somalia

Facing famine: Faysal and Sahro's story

A mother’s arduous journey to save her children  

By Action Against Hunger

Mar 30 2017

Editor's Note: This story was produced by Action Against Hunger staff in Somalia.

When 28 years old Sahro Osman and her three young children arrived in Huddur in the Bakool region of Somalia, her 11-month-old son Faysal was weak with hunger. 

Our animals died and our wells dried up back home," she said. “We were going hungry. So I decided to leave. But it took me three days to find food and water for my children.” Worsening insecurity in her home village near Tieglow and the devastating draught that has hit Somalia forced her to leave her village. The mother journeyed some 90 km on foot, without food and water, before reaching the town of Hudur. 

11-month-ols Faysal suffers from life-threatening malnutrition. His mum, Sahro, carried him for three days to get him vital care. Here an Action Against Hunger nutrition specialist takes his temperature and measures his mid upper arm to determine his health status. Image: Action Against Hunger Somalia


“There was no one I could turn to for help" 

There was no one I could turn to for help so I embarked on the tedious, long journey in pursuit of a better life for my children. But I was unable to feed my children, especially my youngest son Faysal, who fell sick during the journey,” Sahro said.  Although she tried to cope as best as she could, Farah couldn’t get the vital nutrients he needed to stay healthy.

Somalia is in a state of pre-famine. The country is experiencing both severe drought and violent conflict from armed groups, both of which are driving a widespread, dangerous food crisis. 

Families like Sahro’s who are dependent on farming and rearing livestock to feed their children, have been left with no food and no income. Rising prices for food and other essentials continue to impoverish families and jeopardise their ability to meet their daily survival needs. Struggling to feed their children, Sahro is just one of hundreds of families who have fled to Hudur for help. 


On the brink of starvation, weakened by fever and diarrhoea, Faysal was admitted to Action Against Hunger’s stabilisation centre in Hudur, supported by UK aid. He was immediately diagnosed with life-threatening malnutrition and underwent one week of intensive therapeutic and medical treatment before being released for the remaining weeks of therapeutic outpatient care. 

Thankfully, Faysal quickly started regaining his health,” said Sahro. 

But the situation in Somalia remains dire and children like Faysal are extremely vulnerable right now. 

Over the past two weeks, Action Against Hunger screened 711 children under five years old for malnutrition in Hudur, of which 155 were admitted for lifesaving treatment. 

Our top priority is to provide lifesaving treatment for severely malnourished children and to protect the health of vulnerable pregnant women and nursing mothers,” said John Clinton, Action Against Hunger’s Country Director in Somalia.” In the weeks ahead, we aim to reach 30,000 people with emergency screening and treatment for severe malnutrition.”


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