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A group of women learn nutrition for themselves and their infants

"My children were starving"

When her animals died, Dero Ahmed Ali knew it was time to seek help.

The 35-year-old Somali widow and mother of four eked out a living for herself and her four children in the Dollow-Gedo region, near the Ethiopian border. But four seasons without rain produced drought conditions that not only killed her few animals--it also destroyed her meagre crops.

"My children were starving," she said. 

After leaving her village in search of food, Ali and her children ended up in the Qurdubey internally displaced persons camp. That's where they received help form Action Against Hunger, with support from the Humanitarian Coalition. 

Action Against Hunger provided the family with food, water, and a hygiene kit. At the same time, she was enrolled in a three-month-long Maternal Infant and Young Child Feeding Program where she learned about how to make healthy porridge for her children, along with other nutrition advice.

Ali also joined a support group for pregnant women and mothers with young children. The women came together to share experiences, exchange ideas and information on breast feeding, child rearing and general women's health. 

Following her graduation from the Maternal Infant and Young Child Feeding Program, Ali decided to give back by organizing a mother-to-mother support group for other women in the camp. 

Ali and her family are just a few of the almost two million women and children in Somalia impacted by the ongoing drought and conflict in that country that has resulted in the loss of livelihoods for many--food insecurity and malnutrition is rampant.

Some have fled to other countries, while others have become internally displaced and in need of aid.

Of the assistance she received to help her look after her family, Ali said: "I didn't have the knowledge I currently have. I repeatedly did things that risked the health of my children." Now she has used that knowledge to train 29 other mothers. "I want to keep up and reach more mothers," she said.