Empowering Resilience in Somalia: Medair’s Mission Amidst Adversity

Examination of a little boy in a health facility supported by Medair in southern Somalia. ©Medair

Somalia’s journey has been rife with prolonged humanitarian challenges—conflict, food insecurity, natural hazards, and limited healthcare access. Within Central and Southern Somalia, these difficulties magnify due to ongoing conflict and restricted infrastructure.

Accessing essential healthcare services in this region poses significant challenges. A scarcity of medical facilities, personnel, and supplies as well as significant security threats for health care workers, severely impedes the delivery of critical medical assistance. The displacement of many only adds to the already intricate hurdles in accessing healthcare.

Moreover, natural hazards like cyclical droughts and floods that have significantly worsened over the past years due to climate change have led to even more malnutrition and health-related issues, particularly impacting vulnerable groups like children and pregnant women.

Two women and an infant walking in a informal settlement for displaced people in southern Somalia.

In informal settlements like this, displaced families who fled conflict and natural hazards face a hard time surviving. The health facilities supported by Medair provide free medical services for these communities. ©Medair

In the face of these adversities, humanitarian organizations like Medair have been steadfastly working to bridge the gaps and provide medical assistance. However, the situation remains critical due to persistent insecurity and a challenging operational environment. Political instability and limited resources further strain efforts to improve healthcare access.

In central and southern Somalia, Medair operates in tandem with local partners to support several health facilities. Through initiatives in health and nutrition services, staff training, and infrastructure rehabilitation, we aim to bolster healthcare provisions. Our commitment extends to community health activities, ensuring a comprehensive approach to healthcare and support. Protection activities also encompass the provision of child-friendly play areas at supported health facilities and specific group-based psychosocial support activities.

Bintia, a 39-year-old mother in central Somalia, expresses her gratitude for the healthcare services provided at a Medair-supported facility. Her daughter, Halima, received crucial treatment and care after falling critically ill. Bintia’s words highlight the challenges faced in accessing healthcare in a region marred by insecurity.

A mother and her infant daughter sitting on a bench in a health facility in central Somalia.

Bintia is happy her little girl got successfully treated for malnutrition in one of Medair-supported health facilities in central Somalia. ©Medair

“I am so thankful for this health clinic and the services you offer here. My baby got high fever and a bad cough, then she refused to eat and rapidly lost a lot of weight. I knew about this place and was sure that it is safe to get treatment here. You provide quality services and the security in the clinic is good as well”, she adds. “Generally, it is very hard to get health services in the country now. The situation is difficult. Here in this city, it is of course the same”, Bintia continues. The way from home to the facility is what the mother is afraid of. “There are always thieves around, it is a dangerous walk for me to this place here”, she worries.

As baby Halima was admitted, she was malnourished and taken into the nutrition program. 

With medication and therapeutic food called Plumpy’Sup, a lipid-based nutritional supplement with a high vitamin and mineral content, the baby’s condition improved quickly.

A young girl child's temperature is measured by clinical staff in a health facility in central Somalia.

Halimas fever is gone as we meet her in this health facility. Free health services for malnourished children under five are rare to find nowadays in central Somalia and many other parts of the country. ©Medair

Mother Bintia rejoices: “Fever and cough have gone fast, after just five days of treatment, the sickness of my child is almost gone. I am praying that Halima continues to recover well. Hopefully, she gets good education one day and has a good life and can support our family.” 

In one of the health facilities that we support in Southern Somalia, we meet Yuusuf. He is the facility leader and cannot hide how proud he is for the quality services his team is able to provide and for the good reputation the facility now has amongst the community. He tells us:

“Every service we provide is free of charge, and the people appreciate it and come to us. Our patients come from the community around. We also have patients coming from far. Some come from 50 kilometers away to get services. This is the only facility operating around and the services are better in quality compared to other places. Since the droughts worsened, most animals of the pastoralists have died due to lack of water. These people are all now settling in the camps around here, having nothing to eat and no water. They do not have a place to sleep, they do not have shade, they do not have water to drink or cook, they do not have food to eat, there are a lot of challenges and a lot of impact that comes from the weather change. The facility gets more people coming for basic health care. The population and the demand for our health services have increased.”

A male clinical staff hands over drugs to a mother and her infant in a pharmacy in southern Somalia.

In this pharmacy in one of Medair-supported health facilities in southern Somalia, patients receive free drugs. ©Medair

Medair’s work in this challenging landscape encompasses a holistic approach, addressing not only immediate medical needs but also psychological and emotional support. Despite the complexities, our commitment to serving these communities remains unwavering.

Every step forward, every life touched, is a testament to the impact of our collective efforts. Your support, whether through raising awareness or direct contributions, plays a pivotal role in our mission in Somalia. Together, we can further expand our reach and positively influence more lives in these challenging times.

Medair stands firm in our commitment to heal and support these hard-to-reach communities. The challenges are immense, but the impact of our work is real, visible, and life changing. Together, we can make a lasting difference.

A young boy gets screened for malnutrition with the MUAC method (Mid upper arm circumference).

This young boy gets screened for malnutrition with the MUAC method (Mid upper arm circumference). ©Medair


This content was produced with resources gathered by Medair field and headquarters staff. The views expressed herein are those solely of Medair and should not be taken, in any way, to reflect the official opinion of any other organisation.