World Vision Somalia
article • Wednesday, October 11th 2017

Vitameal improving malnourished children’s health in Puntland

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Umi and her three younger children enjoying a meal of Vitameal-a mix or rice and lentils

The smell of hunger is odourless. You can feel it when your stomach grumbles. You can see it in adults when they become weak and cannot do much and in children when their ribs stick out and they become malnourished.

Severly malnourished Muhammad, 4 diagnosed by a World Vision mobile health unit in Budanbuto, Puntland, Somalia. Photo/Brett Tarver

But smelling it, you just can’t. Yet the smell of hunger is what Umi Said from Burtinle in Puntland State in Somalia breathed in every single day since the drought hit hard. With no source of livelihood, it felt like darkness was striding towards her family.

A mother of seven, three of her younger children are in different stages of malnourishment. The only food she could give them was tea (a mixture of water and tea leaves- at times with sugar, at times without) at night so that they can sleep.

“Before the drought and now, life for my family has been very hard. Sometimes am able to get food and sometimes I don’t find anything and come back empty-handed,” says Umi.

 Umi, her husband and her three younger children. Photo/Max Moser

Despite the hardship, help came in various ways. The help came in different shades of colourful wrappings. Her younger child was enrolled at World Vision’s nutrition programme and received ready to use supplementary nutritious packs to help malnourished children become healthy and she got a carton of Vitameal – a mix of rice and lentils - that contains 6 packets of the commodity.

Umi carrying her carton of Vitameal that contaisn 6 packets. Photo/Marion Aluoch 

“There is a difference between yesterday and today. Today I got this vitameal and gave some to my children. And I’m assured something will go to their stomachs. So am so happy, ” she adds.

Umi is excited seeing her children eat something for the day. Photo/Max Moser 

For Umi, this was more than happiness. It was pure unadulterated happiness knowing her children will not go to bed hungry for several days. She projects that the carton will last her 14 days and for now she is content with that.

 Umi's younger children enjoying their meal of Vitameal. Photo/Marion Aluoch

Ali, Umi's youngest son. Photo/Max Moser

Ali, satisfied after eating Vitameal and ready for his nap. Photo/Marion Aluoch

World Vision has integrated Gifts in Kind (GIK) into the health programming to improve nutritional status of malnourished children affected by severe drought, which has resulted into high number of malnourished children, pregnant and lactating mothers benefiting from programme.

The GIK that included Vitameal was used to treat cases of malnutrition during the emergency response. Vitameal has been used to cover the gap experienced during the drought and provide the nutrients required for growing children.

World Vision is providing emergency food, clean water and access to medical care to families like Umi.

World Vision’s response has reached 482,289 people with food security and livelihood support.

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