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Somalia faces a constant struggle for enough resources to feed the entire population. Millions of citizens throughout Somalia suffer from hunger and poverty. Somalia is located in an area that suffers from extreme droughts and experienced one in late 2019. Droughts throughout Somalia leave millions of people without proper resources, as animals and crops go without proper nutrition to ensure food for citizens. However, Somalia, and Africa as a whole, are dealing with a more destructive problem this year. Locusts are impacting both the economy and the issue of starvation in Somalia, with millions and maybe even billions of insects flying across the continent. For a country that is currently dealing with hunger and poverty issues, locusts and their growth could be extremely detrimental to Somalia.

The Second Wave of Locusts in Somalia

According to recent studies and developments, there is currently a second wave of locusts swarming throughout Somalia and Africa. The second wave has the potential to be more harmful to the economy of Somalia because it is occurring during harvest season. The harvesting of crops is a positive thing for the citizens who continue to lack food and resources. Millions of locusts can cause enough damage to crops to equate to feeding a small population city. Furthermore, Somalia has not experienced a plague of locusts as strong as this one in about 25 years.

Additionally, COVID-19 is making this plague more damaging for Somalia and the citizens. The combination of both events will cause over 25 million Africans to not have proper food resources throughout the remainder of the year.

All Hands-on Deck Approach to Locusts in Somalia

To ensure that the effect on locusts on the economy and starvation in Somalia is minimal, the government has decided to join with the organization Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This partnership includes efforts to control and stop the growth and spread of locusts around Somalia and Africa. The control of this plague ensures that Somalia does not take a dramatic and harmful hit to the economy. It would also protect citizens from food shortages.

The Somalian government depends on communities to assist with controlling the spread as well. These efforts include using ground and air vehicles to spray pesticides on developing eggs and locusts flying throughout affected areas. Thirty ground vehicles are being used to control spread and growth. These vehicles can destroy eggs and developing locusts which are not able to fly. Additionally, in May, two helicopters were brought in to help control flying locusts and cover widely affected areas. So far, FAO has covered over 197,000 acres of land throughout Somalia and plans to cover over 444,000 acres by the end of 2020. Going forward, FAO will conduct similar control efforts. This plan also has the possibility to take care of any future swarms of locusts that may occur.

Looking Forward

Somalia, and Africa, continue to struggle with locusts swarming and developing. The locusts have had a negative effect on the economy and starvation in Somalia. The country already has millions of citizens who lack the proper amount of daily food resources. Additionally, Somalia has experienced droughts that have changed the economic outlook of the country in recent years. Adding the plague of locusts into the equation will only continue to damage food resources in Somalia, especially since they are arriving during harvest season. However, the Somalian government has decided to address this problem by working with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This organization created control efforts to stop the growth and development of locusts. FAO has covered massive amounts of Somalian land with control efforts and plans to continue covering more land throughout 2020.

– Jamal Patterson 
Photo: Flickr

tuberculosis in SomaliaTuberculosis is a disease caused by bacteria that spreads through the air. While it can also be spread through the consumption of unpasteurized milk contaminated with the bacteria, the most prevalent form of the TB infection is pulmonary TB. In rare cases, TB can also affect the lymphatic system, central nervous system, urogenital region, joints and bones.

In Somalia, one of the world’s most poverty-stricken nations, less than half of estimated cases of TB are detected. Not all tuberculosis strains are equal, making diagnosis and treatment more difficult. While antibiotics typically treat TB, studies have shown that the prevalence of drug-resistant TB has increased. Somalia has a recent history of a tumultuous political climate, exacerbating obstacles that might prevent the delivery of efficient healthcare, like fund allocation and accessibility.

Diagnosis

In a cultural profile of Somalia conducted in 2006, many believed the disease was spread through airborne particles resulting from coughing or sneezing. These same people often believed that the contraction of TB also comes from a variety of things including it being inherited or the result of a loss of faith, creating stigmas around the disease.

Many people distinguished TB from other ailments with respiratory symptoms through weight loss and the presence of blood in the mucus. Until these symptoms are found in addition to an existing cough, it is assumed to be a chest infection. In cases when a fever is apparent, some confuse TB with malaria.

While the primary symptoms (cough, weight loss and bloody mucus) follow the same way the west symptomatically views TB, Somalians understand the progression of symptoms and the disease a little differently. For example, they separate coughing as a symptom into different phases based on the nature of the cough. They focus on whether or not chest pains accompany a cough, or how it sounds. Based on what phase the symptom is in, it might dictate different treatment plans.

Drug-Resistant Tuberculosis

As of 2011, 5% of first-time infected tuberculosis patients had a drug-resistant strain of TB. In comparison, 41% of previously infected patients had this more robust form of TB. These strains are resistant to several drugs used in the treatment of TB. This resulted in the highest recorded instances of multidrug-resistant TB in Africa at the time.

World Vision

World Vision is a global poverty mitigating initiative with boots-on-the-ground efforts. The organization provides healthcare resources, clean water and education to impoverished communities around the world.

Partnering with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the organization has created 33 tuberculosis grants valued at a total of $160.6 million. World Vision has been the primary recipient of tuberculosis grants in Somalia.

In Somalia, World Vision works to fight the frequency of tuberculosis and its drug resistance. With the help of the Global Fund, the organization has treated more than 115,000 people. Additionally, it has trained 132 health professionals in DOTS, the directly observed treatment, short course, as recommended by the WHO. The organization has also helped 30 laboratories with TB microscopy, which resulted in the national health authority documenting 6,505 cases. World Vision continues to strive to strengthen resources within Somalia so that the government and community have a better capacity in which to deal with TB.

– Catherine Lin 
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Sanitation in SomaliaLack of access to Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) is inextricably linked to extreme poverty around the globe. Somalia, a country located in the Horn of Africa, has long faced issues relating to WASH. Though Somalia struggles with WASH, some organizations have vastly improved sanitation in Somalia. The following are 10 facts about sanitation in Somalia.

10 Facts About Sanitation in Somalia

  1. Currently, only 52 percent of Somalia’s population has a water supply close to home. This impacts women and children especially since the chore of fetching water falls on them in this society. Women must trek miles in the hot sun to fill jugs of water. Mercy-USA has been working to tackle this water crisis since 1997. In addition, they have dug and repaired about 670 wells. As a result, more than 750,000 people in Somalia have access to safe drinking water.
  2. Only a quarter of Somalia’s population has access to improved sanitation facilities within 10 meters. Poor hygiene and sanitation practices due to a lack of access to proper sanitation facilities can lead to chronic/acute diarrhea, respiratory infections and cholera. Theses are life-threatening illnesses for some age groups. Just the past three years, more than 900 people in Somalia died from cholera. UNICEF is working to improve access to sanitation facilities. It provides integrated interventions that can reduce the incidences of these easily preventable diseases.
  3. Drought has increased the price of water, exacerbating the already dangerous situation. The recent drought in Somalia led to severe water shortages. This tripled the price of a barrel of water (200 liters) to $15. CARE responded to this drought by providing 10,000 people with access to water. Additionally, CARE distributed water purification tablets to areas most affected by the drought.
  4. In parts of Somalia, up to 60 percent of pastoralists’ herds were wiped out by drought. Recently, Somalia experienced a drought that had extremely adverse effects on the country’s pastoralist communities. As Somalia has a traditional agro-pastoral focus, this expected to severely impact the economy. The livestock sector accounts for 40 percent of GDP. Thankfully, “FAO reached 38.3 million animals in Somalia through animal health services.” This “provided more than 900,000 animals with supplementary feeding.” Additionally, it delivered more than 53 million liters of water to these animals in response to the urgent needs of these drought-stricken pastoralists.
  5. Action Against Hunger is providing hygiene education sessions to teach Somali communities about preventing disease. Diseases often spread due to inadequate knowledge surrounding hygienic practices. Action Against Hunger launched a cholera prevention program that provided communities with sessions on hygiene and sanitation. These sessions showed the importance of handwashing, properly disposing of trash and how to properly clean the toilets.
  6. About 37 percent of Somalia’s population defecate in the open, but this is changing. In rural parts of Somalia, open defecation is a common practice that can cause serious risks to public health. UNICEF is working with local partner HEAL in villages in Somalia to educate communities with the goal of ending this practice. Moreover, HEAL proved that simply educating these communities is quite effective. After UNICEF and HEAL provided these villages with technical assistance and ran awareness campaigns, many families used their own money to build latrines. Today 12 villages in Somaliland, two villages in Puntland and 25 villages in Somalia’s central and southern regions have achieved the status of “open defecation free.”
  7. Sanitation in Somali schools is improving. Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) addressed the need for functional toilets, hand-washing stations and waste disposal locations in Somali schools. PAH assessed schools in Somalia and identified five with the highest need for updates, one of which did not have a single running toilet. Additionally, PAH provided these schools with eight water kiosks. It rehabilitated existing facilities and built “20 triple latrine-blocks with hand-washing facilities.”
  8. Discussion groups are helping organizations understand how to improve Menstrual Hygiene Management (MHM) in Somalia. In Somalia, menstruation continues to be a taboo. Many women only have access to cloth rags that restrict movement. The cloth rags are unsanitary because houses do not always have the ability to wash them regularly. ELRHA sent 2,000 MHM kits to various countries, including Somalia. Its plans are to follow up in one and three months to measure the appropriateness, effectiveness, acceptability and value of these kits as a humanitarian relief item.
  9. Piped water from UNICEF-EU installed tanks is giving children hope that they will be able to attend school in lieu of fetching water. A joint urban water project is installing water tanks on the outskirts of Somali towns and pipelines. In addition, it will bring this vital resource closer to their homes. Farrah, who is 13 years old, supports his family as a water vendor. Hopefully, once water is piped into his town, he will be able to go to school instead of traveling daily for water. Farrah mentioned that “I will go to school. […] I will carry books instead of jerrycans. And I will walk with my classmates instead of a donkey. It has always been my dream to wear a uniform and carry books.”
  10. In the last year, more than 49,000 people had to flee their homes in search of water and other necessities. This came after a drought in 2016 to 2017 that displaced more than one million people. As a result, the U.N. Refugee Agency has been working with partners and government agencies to help those affected and displaced by the drought. They provided emergency assistance to some of the most affected areas of Somalia.

Lack of sanitation is closely tied to poverty. People are unable to break the cycle of poverty when their basic needs are not met. Somalia is still far from achieving proper sanitation for all who inhabit the country. However, these facts about sanitation in Somalia prove that hope is not lost. With help from generous organizations around the world, sanitation can become accessible for all.

Hannah White

Photo: Flickr

Human Capital Investment in Somalia

Somalia is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world. UNICEF estimates that 43 percent of the Somali population live on less than a dollar a day, while around half of the labor force is unemployed. Social unrest caused by a long civil warcoupled with weak institutions have contributed to devastatingly high levels of poverty in the region. One especially prominent effect of this has been the incredibly weak education system in Somalia. Only half of the Somali population is literate and in 2016, only 32 percent of Somali children were enrolled in school. This has undermined much of the government’s attempts to build successful anti-poverty initiatives, as economic development requires substantial improvements in the human capital development of Somalia.

Partnership with the World Bank

Somalia had previously been unable to attain a partnership with the World Bank, due to high levels of debt carrying over from previous World Bank loans. However, the ambitious economic reforms of the new Somali government which was established in 2012, offer hope for improvement, culminating in the new Country Partnership Framework established by the World Bank in 2018. The World Bank has dedicated its resources to aiding the Somali government in developing stronger institutions and economic growth, in line with the government’s National Development plan. As a result of the new partnership, the World Bank now accounts for 15 percent of total financing (around $28.5 million) for Technical and Vocational Education and Training programs in Somalia.

Human Capital Investments

These investments play a significant role in human capital development, as they offer an opportunity for Somalia to diversify its economy and offer the potential for granting individuals access to sustainable long-term income. This is especially true of the role that education plays, as creating a more educated population can be vital to ensuring continued economic growth, reducing the overall reliance on foreign aid. Improvements in human capital have the potential for massive returns. The World Bank estimates that human capital growth can produce a 10 to 30 percent increase in per-capita GDP, providing economic resilience, as well as developing the tools necessary to help lift a country out of poverty. 

Such programs can play a vital role in improving employer confidence and organizing effective human capital advances. While many other reforms may contribute to economic growth, it is important to note that since the World Bank began the partnership in 2018, the country’s GDP has grown by 0.7 percent.

Overall, by securing this partnership with the World Bank, Somalia is working toward major educational reforms to boost human capital development for this and future generations.

– Alexander Sherman
Photo: Flickr

water quality in SomaliaFor a country whose entire eastern border is an ocean, water quality in Somalia is a longstanding worry for the nation’s citizens. According to UNICEF Somalia’s Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) studies, of the nearly 15 million people living in Somalia, only 45 percent of them have access to clean water. Only one in four people have access to adequate sanitation facilities within a reasonable distance of their homes.

WASH has linked the lack of clean water and sanitation facilities to the rising disease rates in Somalia, most notably, the widespread prevalence of widespread waterborne diseases such as diarrhea that account for more than 20 percent of deaths of children under five. Additionally, the lack of clean water is heavily correlated to malnourishment, which over 300,000 children in Somalia are currently suffering from.

While having clean drinking water is imperative to survival, the disposal of wastewater (water used for cooking, bathing, sewage and other uses) is nearly as important to providing a safe and clean environment for Somalians to live in. Considering that the infrastructure to dispose of wastewater is severely lacking in Somalia, and the fact that most Somalians rely on rivers and rainwater for water (natural sources which are highly prone to contamination by wastewater), it is little surprise that so many Somalians lack adequate drinking water.

Estimates indicate that it would cost $1.5 billion to provide clean water to all Somalians that would not be dependent on weather patterns, droughts or possible contamination by wastewater. While by no means a small sum, it is also not an outrageous one, and one that is being decreased by efforts to improve Somalian irrigation techniques, harvesting and storing cleaner rainwater, as well as other methods to help Somalia use less water more efficiently.

These efforts, however, are only made tougher due to the twofold threat of the terrorist organization al-Shabaab, which controls much of rural Somalia, where the lack of clean water is felt most severely, and the harsh drought and famine that is currently sweeping the country. While food and water supplies are already running low, al-Shabaab puts up blockades and refuses to let aid workers assist the starving and thirsty people. In March, the Somali prime minister reported that over a hundred people had died as a result of the drought, and that number has likely only continued to worsen as concerns over the water quality in Somalia continue to linger.

Organizations such as UNICEF have stepped up to combat the water shortages by providing medical services and other necessities. Most pressingly, UNICEF was providing over 400,000 people with daily water as of early 2017. Members of the group hope and plan to increase that number fourfold and provide water vouches to well over a million people.

USAID has already committed more than $300 million towards humanitarian assistance in Somalia for 2017. Much of that money is devoted to assisting the UNICEF WASH programs and activities already underway; however, the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has involved itself in an attempt to address the emergency caused by the drought through other initiatives. This assistance is key to helping those affected survive the droughts and allow time for more sustainable solutions to be put in place to improve the water quality in Somalia.

Erik Halberg

Photo: Flickr

Humanitarian Aid to SomaliaSomalia is experiencing the country’s worst drought in 40 years which has led to a severe famine in the worst affected areas. The drought coupled with a ban on humanitarian assistance by Islamist group Al-Shabab has caused Somalia to be left in quickly deteriorating circumstances. Instances of violence, food shortages and the spread of many drought-related diseases have negatively affected the country and caused many people to be internally displaced.

The Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported 975,000 displacements in Somalia with 82 percent, or 804,000 displacements, related to drought and its effects. The rest of the displacements are caused by conflicts and insecurities threatening the country.

According to the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU), the estimated number of people in need of humanitarian aid in Somalia has decreased from 6.7 million people to 6.2 million, which shows that the situation is improving. However, localized famine, daily violent attacks and the ongoing ban set in place by Al-Shabaab, which if broken leads to brutal punishments, make it hard for aid workers to provide assistance to people still in need. 

Aid workers have been highly targeted by Al-Shabaab and many of them are victims of abductions by armed militants. Al-Shabaab imposed the ban on humanitarian aid in Somalia in July 2017. The ban mostly covers areas under his control and has forced hundreds of thousands of people to choose between death from starvation or violent punishment. Communities were told by the militant group that they would experience extreme punishment if they called or had any contact with humanitarian agencies.

Even though aid officials and international human rights organizations have provided humanitarian aid to Somalia and saved many lives, conditions within the country are still deteriorating, with almost half of the population facing starvation if no help is received in the coming months.

After the deadly truck attack on October 14, Somalia needs help more than ever. USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance responded to the attack by providing $100,000 to a partner organization so that emergency medical supplies could be delivered to the 300 victims of the attack.

– Sarah Soutoul

Photo: Flickr

extreme hunger in Somalia

In March 2017, CNN spoke to Fatumata Hassan, a Somali mother struggling for her own survival and the survival of her children as Somalia faces drought, famine and terrorism – all culminating in the hunger of nearly half its population. She has walked over 100 miles to find food – an increasingly common requirement for many Somalis. Extreme hunger in Somalia is far-reaching; 3.2 million Somalis are critically food insecure, and 6.2 million Somalis need humanitarian assistance in general.

Somalia lies on the east coast of Africa, neighbored by Djibouti, Kenya, and Ethiopia. Established in 1960, Somalia is a relatively young country and has often faced instability. In 1991, the ousting of the ruler Mohamed Siad Barre resulted in an ongoing civil war. In the 2000s, pirates and jihadist groups, such as Al-Shabaab, created disruption and military conflict. Finally, in 2012, Somalia reintroduced a formal parliament and the first presidential election since 1967 took place. While these measures have helped to create greater stability in Somalia, Al-Shabaab continues to cause violence within the country.

Great instability within Somalia has not helped it to cope with the drought it has been facing. For two years now, Somaliland and Puntland in northern Somalia have received below-average rainfall. Now, Jubaland in the south is beginning to feel the effects of drought as well. Lack of rain causes crop failure. With little to nothing to eat for the people of Somalia, they cannot spare food to feed their livestock. Locals in Puntland estimate that pastoralists had lost 65 percent of their animals by March of 2017. Loss of livestock equates to a loss of income, meat and milk to nourish children, resulting in increased poverty and extreme hunger in Somalia.

Humanitarian efforts are helping alleviate the effects of the drought. Since the beginning of 2017, $667 million has gone to humanitarian aid within the country, helping it to avoid a similar outcome to the fatal famine of 2011, in which 260,000 people perished. However, conditions in camps set up to provide aid deteriorate as the U.N. appeal for donations is only one-third of the way fulfilled.

Stability and long-term investment to build proper infrastructure – such as a proper healthcare system – are necessary for Somalia to fully recover and handle future droughts with less required aid from the international community. These needs are difficult to achieve with most of Somalia’s budget funneled toward security forces needed to fend off Al-Shabaab.

In the future, greater international support and funding could help create stability in Somalia. The World Bank and International Development Association could be instrumental in this process.

For now, donations from the international community are needed to fend off famine and rehabilitate the 6.2 million Somali people struggling to survive. UNICEF and Save the Children both have online donation pages where individuals can help save those in Somalia who are suffering from hunger.

Mary Kate Luft

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in SomaliaDue to the prevalence of poverty in the area, there are many common diseases in Somalia. With a life expectancy of 55 years, Somalians’ quality of life suffers from ailments that people in a developed country might overlook. Whether transmitted through food, water, animals or other people, common diseases in Somalia burden local populations and may make traveling and volunteering risky. Greater efforts toward disease prevention and social development would improve accessibility to Somalians in need.

In Somalia, diarrhea and other common infectious diseases, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and cardiovascular diseases are the deadliest. Though not necessarily as deadly, mosquito-borne malaria has the third-largest burden on the people of Somalia when measuring in years of healthy life lost. Neonatal disorders and malnutrition are also common diseases in Somalia.

These diseases often spread due to poor sanitation, leaving many people consuming food or water contaminated with fecal matter or sewage. Diarrhea is a symptom of diseases such as typhoid fever, Hepatitis A and cholera. Other common symptoms of these diseases include high fevers, fatigue, jaundice and abdominal pain. If left untreated, mortality rates can reach up to 20 percent.

HIV/AIDS spreads through bodily fluid contamination and is commonly associated with unprotected sexual contact. Somalia has over 26,000 people living with HIV/AIDS with 51 percent of them being women. Children under five are also vulnerable to the autoimmune disease. Since HIV/AIDS is considered a taboo subject directly associated with promiscuity, the stigma surrounding it prevents further progress in disease prevention.

Tuberculosis is an airborne illness, and inhaling only a few germs can cause infection in nearby individuals. Common symptoms include cough with sputum or blood, chest pains, weakness, weight loss, fever and night sweats. Especially in Somalia, HIV and tuberculosis go hand in hand. Statistics show that HIV-positive people are 20 to 30 times more likely to develop tuberculosis than people without HIV. Although tuberculosis is a treatable and curable disease, Somalia’s social and economic status limits access to valuable medicine.

When assessing the common diseases in Somalia, the country’s health sector requires drastic improvement to alleviate the deadly effects of illness. The most vulnerable people to disease are refugees or have been internally displaced by years of conflict and drought. Insecurity, especially prominent in central and southern Somalia, limits access to health resources. The few clinics and hospitals available cannot support the number of people who need treatment.

The most common victims of poverty and political unrest are disease-ridden, injured and malnourished. Somalia is home to some of the worst health indicators in the world, but with support at the governmental level for greater stability, the health situation could improve. Work in nutrition, sanitation and prevalence of medicine and vaccinations all contribute toward a healthier Somalia.

Allie Knofczynski

Photo: Flickr

Human Rights in Somalia: A Fight for Rebirth
Since being thrown into anarchy following the coup against President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia’s political terrain has seen slow and stagnated progress. Dubbed the Horn of Africa, Somalia has been attempting to rebuild itself after more than two decades of political instability and violent infighting. Human rights in Somalia are in need of vast improvements.

The country’s efforts have been widely disrupted by insurgent uprisings and terrorist groups, which have flourished in an environment of reduced economic security and weak state control. Egregious violations of human rights in Somalia have occurred from the violent uprisings as well as the inability to access adequate food, water and shelter.

In March 2017, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo declared Somalia’s drought a national disaster. With an estimated 43% of Somalians living below the poverty line, the dire situation has only been exacerbated by poor climate conditions. The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) predicted that the drought had put further strain on the 6.5 million Somalis who already face resource insecurity due to years of violent conflict.

In the dry and sparse terrain of the most rural parts of Somalia, many young girls and women alike have been targets of gender-based violence as they are forced to venture further out in search of sources of food and water. UNICEF officials fear that the scope of the issue is even larger than is known, as not all cases have been reported. With gender and human rights in Somalia at continued risk, there have been fervent calls for further international engagement with the issue.

The U.S. has been quick to respond to the emergence of insurgent groups and al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab militants in Somalia. Experts have called for a multifaceted approach towards eradicating poverty and improving the record of human rights in Somalia. The Human Rights Watch amongst others has articulated that military intervention in the form of drone strikes can only be a part of a much more robust strategy, especially one that does not put innocent civilians at such high risk.

On an international level, 2017 saw the U.N. Migration Agency launch a project, assisted by one million dollars in donations by China, to have emergency relief resources reach Somalia’s most vulnerable. On a domestic level, the 9th Parliament served its full-term after two decades, with the election in 2016 resulting in 17% youth and 26% women MPs, which marked a significant step forward for Somalia.

Although there is much left to be done, with an internationally sponsored government intact and multi-faceted relief projects on their way, there appears to be more hope for stability than there has been in decades for human rights in Somalia.

Sydney Nam

Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Somalia
Somalia, a country in eastern Africa, is on the brink of catastrophic famine. More than half of the population of Somalia needs some sort of help regarding food. Camps providing aid are set up around the country, but even there the situation of hunger in Somalia is dire.

Feed My Starving Children (FMSC), a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota, decided to find a way to help. This organization operates on a volunteer basis to provide assistance in the battle against world hunger. Volunteers sign up for a shift to come in and pack food into bags for however long they choose. Each bag packs six meals made up of a formula researched to provide the most nutritional value for a starving person. They are all vegetarian and halal certified.

FMSC sends the food they package to at least 60 countries worldwide, constantly working to solve the problem of world hunger. But besides their normal volunteer work, the organization creates mass packing events in various locations. From June 2 through June 5, FMSC hosted its largest packing event in the history of the organization in St. Paul, Minnesota. Partnering with Love Somalia, there were over 15,000 volunteers working in 2.5-hour shifts. The volunteers packed and sent an amazing 4.9 million meals to Somalia in order to assist during the famine. It’s a start to addressing the overwhelming hunger in Somalia that equates to more than six million people who need aid.

Other major packing events have gone towards relief in Haiti, the organization’s largest recipient. In 2015, FMSC sent 78 million meals to Haiti and sends even more after hurricanes.

The United Nations writes that a “massive increase in humanitarian assistance is urgently needed to avert a famine,” especially one that resembles the famine Somalia experienced in 2011, where more than 250,000 people died of starvation. While there is still a long way to go, Feed My Starving Children has begun taking steps to help.

Ellen Ray

Photo: Flickr