In almost ten years of working in emergencies, I have never seen the degree of malnutrition I’ve seen during the current drought in East Africa.
I recently visited a feeding centre that CAFOD works with in Ethiopia. It is currently supporting more than 1,500 children under five, as well as several hundred pregnant women and new mothers.
Kafelech, 20, is a mother of three. She told me that she and her husband provide casual labour on farms, but earn just half a dollar a day. She was admitted to the feeding centre when a nurse told her that she was severely underweight and not producing enough milk for her baby.
Thanks to our support, Kafelech now receives a supply of extra food – a mix of maize, soya and sugar with added vitamins – every two weeks. It’s making a huge difference to her health and that of her baby.
“Since I started receiving it I’m less anaemic and my health has improved,” she said, “and it’s meant that there’s more milk available for my son, who is breastfeeding.”
Messeret, 20, said that she’d been given extra food when she was diagnosed as underweight in her seventh month of pregnancy. “It’s very useful for me and it gives me good energy,” she said. “My weight is improving, and I feel in good general health. We use the food we’re given as porridge. Locally we call it Bulleta. It is tasty to consume. I thank God for helping my family.”
As the drought continues to develop, I know that many more people like Kafelech, Messeret and their children will need our support. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers, and please donate to our East Africa Crisis appeal.