Saida Ahmad Baghili, 18, who is affected by severe acute malnutrition, sits on a bed at the al-Thawra hospital in the Red Sea port city of Hodeidah, Yemen, on October 24, 2016. Reuters followed Saida’s story after this, and on December 6, reported, “Now, after weeks of specialist hospital care in the capital Sanaa, though she can still barely speak and sometimes finds eating more difficult than ever, she can at least smile.” Nearly two years of war between a Saudi-led Arab coalition and the Iran-allied Houthi movement has deepened the plight of Baghili’s family and millions of other Yemenis. In her parched village on the Red Sea coast, impoverished residents have long struggled to put food on the table. Doctors believe Saida’s condition—which began several years before the war began—has damaged her throat, and when her family first brought her to a regional hospital in October, she could barely keep her eyes open or stand. “We admitted Saida to find out the cause of her inability to eat, and it’s clear that she suffers from severe malnutrition,” Doctor Wasfi al-Zakari of Sanaa’s al-Thawra hospital said. “Her health remains chronic, and her bones remain fragile due to stunted growth. In all likelihood, they will never return to normal,” he said. #
Abduljabbar Zeyad / Reuters
Like much of the Sahel, Chad’s Guera region is experiencing another bout of an all too familiar phenomenon: severe drought, food shortages, hunger and chronic malnutrition. Up to 18 million people across the Sahel are facing a severe food crisis and 1 million children could be affected by severe, acute malnutrition.
Droughts are by no means new in this part of the world and have been occurring cyclically since the 17th century but as Professor Marc Bellemare at Duke University in North Carolina points out “food crises rarely, if ever, occur because of an overall lack of food to go around.” Instead, “poor infrastructure and conflict combine to create the perfect storm of constraints to food imports and food distribution” and a steep increase in population over the past two decades is exacerbating the problem.