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Somalia: The power of information

The team in Bossaso, Puntland, have been hosting two visitors this week from Info As Aid  who have been providing guidance, training and advice to Save the Children’s staff.

With Info As Aid, we are implementing a small pilot project to improve our communications with the communities we work in – and to ensure we listen to what they have to say.

Over the past week I have held community meetings with elders and families from a number of the  camps for people forced to leave their homes, where we work.

Arrived with nothing

Many of the families on these camps have recently arrived from drought affected areas of south central Somalia and most arrived into Bossaso with nothing.

For many new arrivals life on the crowded camps is confusing, and the living conditions dangerous.

During these meetings mothers told me they had limited access to information by radio, phone or face to face and that they needed more information on child health and nutrition.

Information is power

I know that many people will ask “why is this important”? Because Information is Power – the access to the right information, at the right time can save lives.

One of my colleague’s sons was very sick this week with vomiting and diarrhoea. At only 8 months he had lost 800g (nearly a tenth of his body weight).

Luckily, he has recovered now after being nursed by his parents, who knew to keep him well hydrated, to continue breastfeeding and how to provide complementary foods.

High mortality rates

This story wouldn’t have been the same for many children in Somalia – a country with one of the highest under 5 mortality rates in the world.

What if families don’t know that they should continue breastfeeding a child who is sick? Or, how to prevent the dangerous disease from being transmitted to other family members?

How can a child be taken to a doctor, to see a nurse or admitted to hospital if a family doesn’t know if or where these services are available?

Empowerment

Save the Children has a team of community mobilizers working across all 31 camps in Bossaso. Over the next few months The Info As Aid project will strengthen this outreach network and work with mothers in the camps to improve the communications flow.

This project will ensure that families have the knowledge and support they need to keep their children as healthy as possible – and to know where to turn for help if needed. Communication is Aid.

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