Misfortune befell Duniya Aliyow Kuusow, 26, a single mother of six who was expecting her seventh baby. She used to farm to fend for herself and her children in Aweys-garwaale Village in the Bay Area, but subsequent drought seasons and the recent locust invasion made her fail to produce enough crops to feed her family. She became desperate for survival.
She decided to take a long trek to a centre for Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) in Baidoa with her children but fell seriously ill on the way; she developed complications related to pregnancy. Duniya was rushed to Bayhaaw Hospital, which receives financial and technical support from UNFPA Somalia. Her children were taken into the IDP camp.
“I was told by the doctors that my blood levels were very low. I had also started bleeding. I feared that I had lost the baby,” said Duniya.
Salama Medical Agency (SAMA) A Somali, local humanitarian aid organization, dedicated to providing emergency life-saving and primary health care, had stepped in to assist Duniya. The NGO focuses on conflict and drought-weakened populations in the under-served and hard to reach areas in south central Somalia, particularly in Bay and Bakol regions. UNFPA Somalia also provides financial and technical support to SAMA.
“We work tirelessly to alleviate human suffering and towards ensuring that no woman dies giving birth,” said Mukhtar Mohamed Hassan; Program Coordinator for SAMA, adding: “it was good we learnt about Duniya’s condition before it worsened and were able to take her to hospital.”
Duniya remained in the hospital for observation and medical care to save her life and prevent her from more complications. She eventually gave birth to a healthy baby, and she suffered no further complications. She joined her other children in the IDP camp.
SAMA keeps on visiting Duniya and her children in the IDP camp to provide her psychosocial support and motivation. She also benefits from dignity kits which SAMA distributes to women and girls in the camp. During the most desperate situations such as the aftermath of a natural disaster or during a conflict, UNFPA distributes necessary supplies to maintain the health and dignity of women and girls. Many of these supplies are included inside containers called dignity kits. These kits are given out in IDP and refugee camps or other similar locations.
UNFPA’s dignity kits vary across communities. In some setting, for example, they may include a headscarf. Generally, they contain menstrual pads, bath soap, multiple pairs of underwear, detergent powder, sanitary napkins, a flashlight, toothpaste, a toothbrush, and a comb, all housed inside a backpack or easy-to-carry bucket. Each of these items is catered to the specific needs of women and girls.
Duniya is now happier. “I am very thankful for the support I received from UNFPA through SAMA,” she said.
Many women in Somalia are facing similar challenges that Duniya faced. Somalia continues to face triple humanitarian threats; desert locust, floods and the COVID-19 Pandemic. Among the 5.2 million in need in Somalia this year, 3.5 million are women of reproductive age. The triple crises have exacerbated pre-existing vulnerabilities of women and girls and affected livelihoods for the poor families and internally displaced persons in most parts of the country. Also, the number of women and girls facing abuse, including sexual violence, has significantly increased due to restrictions on movement, as well as economic and social stresses induced by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Abdullahi Abdirasak