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Somali Malnutrition Levels Rising on Water Shortage, Oxfam Says

The level of malnutrition in Somalia is “alarming” after below-average seasonal rains that hurt the so-called Gu harvest and led to rising food prices, Oxfam said.

Drought and famine in Somalia killed tens of thousands of people last year and left another 4 million, or about half of the population, dependent on food aid. It’s unlikely the Horn of African nation is heading into another famine, even in the worst-affected regions of Gedo, Lower Juba and Bakool, the U.K.- based charity said today in an e-mailed report.

“Oxfam has found that water and food shortages are at critical levels and likely to deteriorate in parts of the country over the coming months, risking a prolonged humanitarian crisis well into next year,” Oxfam said.

Oxfam based its findings on a survey of more than 1,800 households and 240 focus groups in 40 regions of Somalia between July and August, according to the report.

Almost half of respondents said they regularly skipped meals and a fifth had reduced their own serving sizes to ensure their children had enough to eat. Some women reported walking 18 kilometers (11 miles) a day in search of water.

Oxfam warned that Somalia could slide back into “crisis” without sustained support from aid agencies.

Somalia has been mired in civil conflict since the fall of Mohamed Siad Barre’s dictatorship in 1991.

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