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Mercy News - Oct 2008

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Mercy-USA Receives Million Dollar US Government Grant to Help Women and Children in Somalia

On July 14, 2008, Mercy-USA for Aid and Development received new grant funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This funding increases our current grant to $1,064,224 and will help us provide health, nutrition, fresh water and sanitation assistance to over 193,000 vulnerable persons in eight districts in south-central Somalia. Beneficiaries include 36,000 children under five, over 5,600 pregnant women and nursing mothers, as well as over 22,800 internally displaced persons.

This expanded grant will help us to support six Mother/Child Health Clinics (including opening three new ones). It will also support twelve feeding centers (including opening nine new ones) for moderately and severely malnourished children. Additionally, Mercy-USA will construct fourteen new water wells and rehabilitate fourteen others.

The six Maternal and Child Health (MCH) centers are in the districts of Buloburte, Jalalaqsi and Beletweyne in the Hiraan Region and in the districts of Jowhar, Aadan Yaabale and Mahadaay in the Middle Shabelle Region. These MCH centers will primarily serve 3,840 pregnant and lactating women and 19,200 children in these isolated communities. Medical services provided will include prevention and treatment of malaria, diarrhea and other infectious diseases, immunization, prenatal and post-natal care, as well as health education. The education activities will focus on best practices at the household level to prevent common illnesses and infections.

The seven Outpatient Therapeutic Feeding Program (OTP) centers and five Supplemental Feeding Program (SFP) centers are in the districts of Buloburte, Jalalaqsi and Beletweyne in the Hiraan Region and in the districts of Jowhar and Jilib in the Middle Shabelle and Middle Juba Regions respectively. These OTP and SFP centers will primarily serve 31,400 children and 4,720 pregnant and lactating women in these isolated communities. The services provided will include emergency and therapeutic feeding for moderately and severely malnourished children, de-worming, provision of vitamins, immunization and nutrition education activities. To promote improved feeding practices, Mercy-USA will carry out food demonstration exercises to train mothers on the preparation of balanced meals using locally available food.

Twenty-eight newly constructed and rehabilitated wells will provide safe drinking water to over 46,200 persons and their estimated 365,000 livestock in the districts of Jowhar, Aadan Yaabale and Mahadaay in the Middle Shabelle Region and in Ceel Bur District in the Galgadud Region. Mercy-USA will also chlorinate these wells and other water sources in Hiraan, Middle Juba, Galgadud and Middle Shabelle that provide safe drinking water to over 193,000 people. Additionally, Mercy-USA will provide hygiene education to communities and help them to dig garbage disposal pits and arrange clean up campaigns in areas around the newly constructed or rehabilitated water points. Communities will also be assisted to form water and sanitation committees to supervise all hygiene-related matters.

Somalia has one of the highest child and maternal mortality rates in the world. One in eight children dies before reaching the age of five and 1,600 women die for every 100,000 live births.

A recent study by UNICEF estimates that 83,000 children in the central and southern parts of the country, where Mercy-USA is working, are suffering from malnutrition and 13,500 of these children are severely malnourished and at risk of dying.