“Our situation felt almost hopeless – I knew I had to do everything I could to save my daughter.”...
Doa’a Kutbi looks back on her three and a half years with International Medical Corps in the southern port...
Somalia, South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen are at the epicenter of this emergency. In all four of these nations, ongoing armed conflicts continue to force families from their homes, destroy economies and livelihoods, and hinder humanitarian organizations’ ability to reach them. There is little sign that any of the conflicts will end soon. In a fifth country, Ethiopia, drought threatens the ability of more than 7.5 million people to feed themselves.
International Medical Corps is fighting hunger and famine in Somalia, South Sudan, northeastern Nigeria, Yemen and Ethiopia by providing lifesaving treatment for malnutrition and other relief.
people experiencing extreme food insecurity
children at risk of starvation
teetering on famine; in a 5th country, conditions worsen
Four of the five countries facing hunger and drought are also at risk of famine: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria. All four are in the throes of armed conflict. The violence has forced people to flee their homes, kept them from their livelihoods, destroyed economies and, in some cases, prevented humanitarian organizations like International Medical Corps from reaching those in need. In Somalia, consecutive failed rains have caused widespread crop failure and loss of livestock, compounding what was already a dire humanitarian crisis.
Many of the hardest-hit communities are agro-pastoralist, which means they rely on the livestock and crops for food and income. The drought has devastated crop production. In some parts of Somalia, reports indicate that as many as 60% of livestock have died, while cereal production is down by 93%. This makes it extremely difficult for people to feed themselves.
In Somalia and Ethiopia, droughts are becoming more severe and more frequent. Both have seen back-to-back failed rain—a development that has left millions of people without enough to eat. These repeated shocks severely erode families’ abilities to cope because they are unable to recover their crops and livestock over sustained periods of time.
Famine can be prevented if humanitarian organizations have the financial support to deliver lifesaving assistance and the access to those in need. Currently, United Nations appeals to fight famine and hunger are underfunded, which means the humanitarian community does not have the resources required to meet the needs of communities facing famine. Additionally, some areas with the highest rates of malnutrition are controlled by non-state armed actors where security conditions make it impossible for humanitarian organizations to operate. This means we cannot provide families with relief to prevent and treat malnutrition.
Armed conflicts in Somalia, Yemen, South Sudan and Nigeria restrict access to families at risk of famine.
Violence and drought have forced millions of families across the four countries to flee their homes in search of safety and assistance.
Outbreaks of diseases like cholera and measles can increase the risk of death, especially among children.
International Medical Corps’ first responders go directly into communities, using whatever transport necessary—even canoes—to reach malnourished children with lifesaving, nutrient-dense food. We also run 24-hour stabilization centers where malnourished children with medical complications receive around-the-clock care.
We prevent malnutrition by providing seeds, tools and other livelihoods support to families. One example: a program in Ethiopia where we expand livestock ownership to smallholder farmers in an effort to increase the quality and diversity of their household diet. Another example is in northeastern Nigeria, where we work with the World Food Programme (WFP) to distribute supplementary food to families displaced by the armed militant group Boko Haram.
International Medical Corps provides primary and secondary healthcare services in clinics and hospitals, as well as in mobile medical units that travel to remote and underserved communities. We are also responding to outbreaks of disease. This includes running cholera-treatment facilities as well as supporting vaccination campaigns against measles. Medical interventions are critical in the fight against hunger, as disease and malnutrition are inextricably linked: the malnourished—especially children—are more susceptible to illness, while diseases can cause or worsen malnutrition.
To prevent diarrhea and diseases that can worsen malnutrition, International Medical Corps provides safe drinking water in displacement camps and communities. This is especially true in camps where people live in cramped conditions—especially fertile ground for outbreaks of disease. We also improve sanitation and hygiene in communities by building and managing latrines, distributing personal hygiene items like soap and educating families on how to keep themselves healthy.
An unprecedented 20 million people today are on the precipice of famine. At the heart of this crisis is Nigeria, where a years-long conflict triggered by the insurgent group Boko Haram has wreaked havoc on the northeastern corner of the country.READ MORE