Michael Morrah: Imagine your child dying because you couldn't feed her

22/05/2017 by Michael Morrah, Newshub


Michael Morrah: Imagine your child dying because you couldn't feed her

Newshub journalist Michael Morrah travelled to East Africa with World Vision this month, reporting on the devastation and sharing some of the stories from the millions affected by the East Africa Hunger Crisis.

She was surrounded by her children outside a hut made of mud and a patchwork of colourful canvas. They were sitting on plastic chairs and squares of cardboard, seeking shade from the harsh afternoon sun.

But the youngest member of Tiya Abdub Molu's family wasn't there.

Tiya Abdub Molu and five of her children

Not because she was out with her father, or being cared for by the elders. But because, at the age of just four months, she'd died. Not because of post-birth complications but because she simply wasn't getting enough food.

Ms Molu struggled to breastfeed and started crying as she explained that despite her daughter being put on an emergency feeding programme, she didn't gain weight.

The third consecutive year of drought in northern Kenya had also claimed the lives of almost all her family's cattle and goats. Their traditional means of food and income had suddenly evaporated. The nearest water point was salty and contaminated.

Hunger and uncertainty were now just part of life, as were the daily questions from Ms Molu's children, who only wanted to know when they could expect their next meal.

I'm a father of two and cannot imagine being in such a frightening predicament. My girls, aged one and three, get upset when we leave the playground or the beach. There might be a meltdown if I can't find the right dress for my three-year-old.

But there are never tears because we're out of food or water.

On my journey across East Africa, I met many young mothers who had either already lost family members or feared their malnourished children would die because they did not have the most basic necessities to survive. It was heartbreaking.

Jarsol James is World Vision’s project coordinator based in Kenya's Marsabit County

World Vision project coordinator Jarsol James talks about a "shattered generation" when referring to the plight of the region's youngest.

The cattle that are now collapsing in the heat were not only a source of food and family pride, they were traded for school fees and helped ensure children received an education. There will be plenty of empty classrooms when school resumes this month.

There's another tragic offshoot to the hunger crisis according to Mr James. With so many families struggling, he says the rates of child marriage are increasing. Girls as young as 12 are exchanged for livestock. It's shocking to comprehend but sadly not unusual in such desperate times.

No wonder Mr James feels overwhelmed and under pressure. As drought and conflict ruins livelihoods, causes famine, and displaces millions, the need here has never been greater.


What is World Vision doing in East Africa?

World Vision is on the ground, helping those most affected by the crisis in Somalia, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. We are providing immediate food and water relief and nutritional support to malnourished children across the region.  We are also providing longer term solutions to improve health, child protection, shelter, education and water and sanitation needs of the most vulnerable children and families.  But we need your help so we can reach even more people in desperate need.

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to the East Africa Hunger Crisis

World Vision on the ground providing emergency life-saving assistance to the most vulnerable. But we need your help so we can reach even more people in desperate need.

The children of East Africa are facing starvation

The children of East Africa are facing starvation

25 million people in South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya and Ethiopia are in crisis due to famine, food and water shortages, and conflict. Tens of thousands of children could die in the coming months.

World Vision is there on the ground but we need your help.

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