Rising malnutrition among displaced in remote Bali-Mataan south of Hargeisa

Children suffering from acute malnutrition are being brought to hospitals in Hargeisa from Bali-mataan, a remote area towards Somaliland’s border with Ethiopia, where large numbers of destitute people displaced by the drought have settled.

Radio Ergo’s local reporter visited some of the children under the age of five in hospital.  On the phone, he spoke to the head of Bali-mataan’s health centre, Dr Khalid Omar Ali, who said he referred 12 children to Hargeisa on 11-12 May because he had no means of helping them.

Dr Khalid told Radio Ergo that a nine-year-old girl died of acute malnutrition in the health centre on 9 May.  He said he was treating 51 malnourished children, 36 of whom are also suffering watery diarrhoea.

Bali-mataan, some 90 km south-east of Hargeisa, attracted large numbers of displaced Somali pastoralist families from the Somali region of Ethiopia and other regions of Somaliland during the height of the drought.

Dr Khalid said they give the malnourished children high energy biscuits and rehydration fluids. His health centre is a public facility receiving with some support from international NGOs. However, the centre does not have the specialized therapeutic supplies and materials to treat acute cases…

Farah Igaal Warsame, a displaced mother from Ethiopia’s Somali region, has been living with her family in one of the scattered IDP camps in Bali-mataan since March 2017.

Radio Ergo spoke to her by phone at the health centre, where she has spent six days nursing her malnourished two-year-old daughter. Farah said she kept her daughter at home when she first fell ill with diarrhoea, hoping she would recover, and only brought her to the clinic when she became much worse.

Farah said she had not cooked for her children for three days before she came to the health centre, as they did not have enough food. Three of her six children are malnourished but she could only bring the one in worst condition to the clinic, while her husband stayed at home with the other children. The family lost all their 45 camels and 200 goats in Daroor, Ethiopia, during two years of drought.

There has been only sporadic aid delivered to the displaced in this area in the last three months. The conditions they are facing are poor.

Al-Khair Foundation, a UK-based Muslim NGO, had been distributing 40 kg of food including flour, sugar and porridge every month last year to camps in Bali-mataan area. But the foundation’s representative in Hargeisa, Khadar Abdullahi Said, said they had only managed to deliver food once in the last three months.

The IDP camps are located on low lying grounds prone to flooding in the rain. Dr Khalid said health conditions for the families there are likely to worsen during the rainy season.

Source: Radio Ergo