Adam Poulter: Dadaab Blog 5


Adam Poulter, Emergency Response Manager for CARE Australia

August 2011

As a humanitarian worker for the past sixteen years I have seen some pretty shocking scenes. Before this trip to East Africa, I was particularly not looking forward to witnessing suffering children. However, when I saw the dedication and commitment of the CARE staff working on our response in very difficult surroundings, it made me feel proud to work for CARE.

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Villagers in Gemechis District, Ethiopia, register for food distribution by CARE. Photo: CARE/Sandra Bulling

Helping pastoralists in Borena

In Borena, Ethiopia, CARE is working with people to reduce cattle herd sizes during droughts to prevent over grazing of the pasture, and to provide the community with an income from their weakened cattle before disease robs them completely of their value.

People in Borena are well known for their strong social bonds. They are also well known for feeding their children first, a practice which is key to ensuring survival of the next generation in this toughest of times. This, along with the monitoring from CARE and the local government, ensures the program reaches those who need it most. But our program is only reaching five per cent of people living in the targeted districts ­­– further funding is desperately needed to extend this highly impactful and timely program.

A health centre in Miyo district

Distances in Miyo district are huge and mothers can travel for a long time to bring their children to the health centre for assistance. The most seriously malnourished children receive help here, accompanied by their mothers.

First they are checked for diseases like diarrhoea and given treatment. Then they start a careful course of therapeutic food, starting with low-strength milk powder. It normally takes four to five days for their weight to stabilise. Then they progress to a more nutritious formula that helps them regain weight fast. Finally, they can be discharged with two month”s ration of oil and corn soya blend to take home.

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In Gemechis District, Ethiopia, CARE distributes monthly rations to villagers, who share the food between them. Food distribution benefits more than 66,000 people in East/West Haraghe and Afar. Photo: CARE/Sandra Bulling

Making sustainable change in people”s lives

Along with responding to the current situation, we also have to look at what causes the current situation and how we can prevent it from happening again. We need to understand the underlying causes of poverty and why drought keeps coming, and why children and mothers are severely affected. For example, we have linked many large households in East and West Hararghe to the long-term family-planning project in the area, as large family sizes can contribute to malnutrition.

With CARE Ethiopia already meeting the needs of over 406,000 (as of Aug. 22)people and plans to reach up to a million in the next three months, I am confident CARE is playing its part in reaching the most vulnerable during this drought, the worst in a generation. It”s our job to make things better in a tough situation and that is something I feel positive about. We need help from the Australian public so that we can extend our programs and benefit more people who are suffering from this devastating drought with long-term solutions.

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