International Medical Corps will immediately scale up emergency nutrition and health programs for drought affected communities in Somalia and Ethiopia with help from a $1.6 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
“This timely grant will enable International Medical Corps to reach more communities in East Africa with lifesaving health services, nutrition, and water, sanitation and hygiene,” said Nancy A. Aossey, President & CEO of International Medical Corps. “We have been working in East Africa since 1991, and are committed to meeting the immediate and long-term needs of the Somali people facing horrific famine conditions, as well as those in Ethiopia and Kenya who are suffering from the worst drought in 60 years. This grant will go a long way in helping us to save lives.”
Reeling from the effects of the drought, along with wide-scale crop failure, and rising food prices, communities throughout the region are struggling to survive without basic resources. Tens of thousands of people have already died in Somalia. With famine declared in six regions of the country, the Sool and Sanaag regions in Somaliland, an autonomous area in the north, are now also suffering skyrocketing rates of malnutrition. Without immediate scale-up of health, nutrition, and integrated water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) activities, it is feared that the rates of death could climb into the hundreds of thousands.
Through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant, International Medical Corps will immediately expand nutrition activities along with integrated health and WASH interventions in Sool and Sanaag. Teams will provide nutritional screenings, referrals, micronutrient supplementation and routine vaccinations. These interventions will target children under five suffering from severe acute malnutrition and pregnant and lactating women. In addition, International Medical Corps will train traditional birth attendants, local leaders and other community members on the importance of breastfeeding to ensure nutritional health. Additionally, International Medical Corps in partnership with the World Food Program intends to reach 142,500 individuals throughout the region through supplementary feeding programs.
In Ethiopia, International Medical Corps will expand nutrition interventions in three areas hard-hit by the drought in East Hararghe Zone, including supplementary feeding programs to reach moderately and acutely malnourished children. The organization will deliver medicines and ready-to-use therapeutic foods as well as conduct community mobilization and hygiene awareness campaigns. In addition, International Medical Corps will build latrines, rehabilitate wells to ensure clean drinking water and distribute supplies to families without access to safe water supply. International Medical Corps will also support local Ministry of Health and Disaster Prevention and Preparedness and Food Security structures through technical and logistical support.