NAIROBI – The U.N. World Food Programme has begun providing food assistance in the southern Somali city of Kismayo for the first time in more than four years. Conflict and insecurity have prevented WFP and many other humanitarian agencies from working in the area, but improved security and access now make it possible to reach Kismayo’s most vulnerable people.
A recent survey showed high levels of malnutrition and food insecurity in the city. WFP is providing hot meals to 15,000 people and specialized nutritional support to some 5,000 mothers and children under the age of five years.
“It is extremely important that we are again able to work again in Kismayo, as our recent rapid food security and nutrition assessment found there is great need,” says Stefano Porretti, WFP’s Representative in Somalia. “The survey showed that almost half the households in Kismayo are really struggling to meet their daily needs, and 24 percent of children below the age of five are malnourished.”
WFP has set up five special nutrition centres around the city, where pregnant and nursing women and young children are checked for malnutrition. If found to be suffering from moderate acute malnutrition, they receive fortified ready-to-use food to supplement their daily diets. So far, two thirds of those in need of treatment are children.
WFP now has three hot meal centres in Kismayo, each able to provide meals for 5,000 people a day. Since the programme started earlier this month, large numbers of people are turning up at the centres, and providing them with cooked food is considered a safer option than distributing dry rations that can be the target of thieves.