Ibrahim holds daughter Isha who is malnourished and sick (Copyright: WFP/David Orr)
The thousands of people who have poured into Mogadishu from the interior never thought they would be dependent on food assistance. But it's proving to be a lifeline for people who have lost everything - their animals and their crops - in the drought.
Ibrahim stands in the middle of the camp cradling his daughter, Isha, in his arms. He says she is four years of age but somehow she looks older. She is terribly thin with sunken cheeks and her head keeps falling sideways onto her father’s shoulder.
“She’s suffering from diarrhea and measles”, says Ibrahim. “She hasn’t been well since we left our home in Bay Region a month ago. Our maize field dried up in the drought. We had nothing left to eat so we left. It took us a week to walk here”.
The family is living in a makeshift camp just beyond the perimeter wall of Mogadishu airport. They are living in a tent made from interwoven branches over which they have spread pieces of cloth and a sheet of orange plastic. Hundreds of similar shelters are clustered around them.
Men, women and children walk along the street outside. They are coming from the nearby feeding centre at Wajadir and many of them carry metal pots containing maize meal porridge and pieces of fruit. The maize is provided by the World Food Programme, then given to a local aid agency that mills it on site, then cooks for the large numbers of people turning up each day. In front of the huge steaming vats, form long lines of women and children bearing all kinds of receptacles.
WFP supports 23 such feeding sites that produce more than 90,000 hot meals each day for the people of Mogadishu. WFP’s main partner for the venture, the Danish Refugee Council, pays for fresh ingredients such as vegetables for a stew that can be served on site with the maize.
Most of the clients at these centres – like everyone in Mogadishu – have been displaced at one time or another during the last 20 years of conflict. Some have recently fled into the city, escaping the drought and famine ravaging the interior. No one knows for sure how many tens of thousands of people have arrived in the capital in the last couple of months or what the population of Mogadishu currently is.
WFP also provides highly nutritious food in sachets for the treatment of malnourished children. More than 80 tons of Plumpy Sup were airlifted in to Mogadishu in late July/early August. The ready-to-use product is distributed by local partners at 19 nutrition centres around the city. With so many families pouring in each day, it’s critical that malnourished children receive this special food after their arrival.