"I had almost given up," says Hanifa, one of 27million Kenyans affected by the drought

Saturday 13 May 2017

By Edward Ahonobadha

Hanifa* is a mother of four. Her youngest daughter, one year old Barika* was severely malnourished when Save the Children first met her in February 2017. Hanifa’s family has been badly affected by the drought in the north of Kenya, in Mandera County. Without rainfall, the family’s livestock began to die off and the remaining goats no longer produced milk due to lack of pasture. This is affected the family’s income and getting food for the family became increasingly difficult.

Hanifa* and Barika* were identified during a door to door malnutrition screening exercise conducted by the Ministry of Health with support from Save the Children. Both were admitted into the Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP) in February 2017.  In April 2017, Save the Children staff visited Hanifa and Barika. Both are in good health and steadily recovering.

Link to story published in February 2017: https://kenya.savethechildren.net/news/tackling-malnutrition-closer-home-can-save-barikas-life

Hanifa* and Barika’s* story in their own words

“I used to sell milk, but my goats don’t give us milk anymore, so I don’t have money for food. I give my children rice once a day.  Most of the time when I was hungry I was not able to breastfeed Barika, so I gave her water.”
“*Barika was severely malnourished but with no complications. She passed the appetite test so we admitted her into the Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP),” says Barwaqa, a nutrition officer at Takaba referral hospital. 
“Barika is much better and has gained a lot of weight. She is now very playful and I thank Save the Children for this” Hanifa said.  “We visit the hospital every week. My baby is more active and does not cry as much as before. We are much better and happier,” she adds.

“Families here are surviving on a meal a day. Previously they would milk their goats, sell half the milk and get money to buy food to for the family meals. But this is not possible anymore and the children suffer the most,” says Ali, a Community Health Volunteer in Takaba, Mandera.

Baby Barika with Save the Children staff Elena, during a follow up visit

“It is rewarding to see both of Hanifa and Barika getting better. It gives me much joy as the community health volunteer from this area” Ali added.

Hanifa still has to walk atleast 7kms to get to the nearest health facility and she says it can be hectic. She is however grateful for the outreach services. “Save the Children cannot take away all the suffering but the little they do has helped to save life. Barika is a good example of how important their services are” said Hanifa. 

Background Information
Across Kenya, the number of people in need of emergency assistance has more than doubled in the last three months to 2.7 million people. The situation can only worsen in the coming months as there is no rainfall forecast before April. 

A joint survey conducted by Save the Children, UNICEF and the Government of Kenya has found that nearly half a million (412,297) children under-5 in Northern Kenya and urban areas require treatment for acute malnutrition, 98,452 of which are severely malnourished. The survey, which was conducted earlier this year, also revealed that 43,452 pregnant and lactating women are in need of treatment for acute malnutrition.

Save the Children Kenya is scaling up its drought response by working with county governments to respond to malnutrition among children, provide water and sanitation and offer health outreach services in hard to reach areas, especially for women and children like Barika