Somaliland: Report from an Emergency Food Crisis


Medair staff in a nutrition campaignSource: Medair – Switzerland

Thankfully, famine no longer grips those two regions of southern Somalia, but the nutritional emergency is far from over. Two rainy seasons have now passed, bringing some relief from the harsh drought that has plagued communities. However, many villages where Medair works received below average rainfall—or none at all—and they remain at great risk. Furthermore, virtually every community has suffered crushing losses to their livestock over the past few years, threatening livelihoods.

One year ago, Medair was already working in the north, in Somaliland, providing nutrition and other relief services in the city of Burao and the surrounding area. We soon expanded our emergency response to reach communities in the Sool and Sanaag regions of Somaliland.

Highlights of the emergency response include:


More than 2,000 malnourished children (six to 59 months) and pregnant and lactating women received treatment for malnutrition.

340,000 kilograms of food distributed to families of malnourished children.

“Before Medair came, the children used to sleep all day and hardly moved. They were exhausted because we didn’t have enough food for them. We can see that they are happy now because they are always moving around. Without Medair, the children would have died.” – Fadumo Mohamed, Gumburu Xangeyo village, Sool district


12,000 people treated at Medair-supported health clinics.

More than 4,000 children vaccinated against preventable diseases.

78 women received assisted deliveries from Medair.

“We provide antenatal and postnatal care and we encourage women to give birth at health clinics, challenging traditional beliefs that it is better to give birth at home while helping to protect them from the dangers of childbirth complication.” – Ed Nash, Medair Field Communications Officer


Training and support for community health workers, nurses, midwives, and nutrition and health promoters.

Employed and trained 51 Somaliland staff and trained 60 promoters to deliver nutrition, health, and hygiene messaging in communities.

“Community leaders who come to see me are always grateful for the work we are doing, particularly our health projects, which have saved many lives… Families tell us how hygiene education has improved their home lives.” – Gabriele Fänder, Medair Project Coordinator, Sool and Sanaag


28 berkads (traditional water reservoirs) and 40 shallow wells rehabilitated, providing safer water access to more than 22,000 people.

1,300 ceramic water filters distributed to vulnerable households (selected based on need) to improve access to safe drinking water.

839,000 litres of water trucked to 11 vulnerable communities because of the unexpectedly long drought.

“Last year, half our berkads were broken; they leaked or were cracked. Not being able to store water during the drought was a really big problem for us. Now, when the rain falls, with these berkads we will be able to store enough water for the village.” – Hirsi Farah, Chief of War Idaad, Sool district.

“Seeing berkads full of water after the rains and our water trucking was a blessing. We are fortunate that there have not been more outbreaks of disease or increases in diarrhoea. This is a testament to the hard work we have been doing. By rehabilitating so many berkads and wells and educating communities about nutrition and health, we have done a lot to strengthen the people living here so they can survive future drought.” – Rhonda Eikelboom, Medair Country Director

Meanwhile, Medair’s integrated programme in Burao and the surrounding area produced encouraging results for vulnerable families. The nutrition situation among Burao IDPs (internally displaced persons) improved from “Very Critical” to “Critical,” thanks in part to increased humanitarian assistance, with the Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit (FSNAU) specifically citing Medair’s contributions to the improved nutrition situation.

Across Somalia/Somaliland, the malnutrition rate among children (six to 59 months) has dropped from 30 percent to 22 percent. Rainfall has helped fuel this fragile recovery, along with the extraordinary efforts of multiple humanitarian agencies to bring life-saving relief to some extremely hard-to-reach communities. “We have been through the worst time I have known in my life,” said Fadumo Mohamed. “I hope things keep getting better now.”

What was once a catastrophic situation has begun to improve, but we must not relent in our efforts. More than two million people remain in crisis and more than one in five children are malnourished. Famine still looms over regions that have seen little rainfall. Emergency aid is needed now more than ever to maintain the life-saving progress that is underway.

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Medair’s work in Somalia/Somaliland is supported by Swiss Solidarity, the E.C. Directorate-General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection, the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), Word and Deed, Help a Child, EO-Metterdaad, the Department for International Development (U.K.), UNICEF, the World Food Programme, and private donations from Medair supporters.

Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991. Its independence has not been recognised by the international community.

This web update was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.