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Clacton aid worker makes a difference in drought-hit Somalia
11:00am Saturday 8th September 2012 in News
AN aid worker has arrived back in Clacton after spending six months at the scene of Africa’s worst humanitarian crisis for years.
Former Clacton County High School pupil Catherine Titley lived in Somalia for six months, working for international medical charity Merlin.
The east African country has hit the headlines for being a hotbed of piracy and is often branded the world’s most failed state after existing without a central government for more than 20 years.
Earlier this week, the country swore in its first formal parliament since 1991.
Decades of fighting destroyed the country’s health services and nearly one in five children die before reaching their fifth birthday.
Last year the plight of the Somali people was made even worse by the region’s most severe drought in six decades, which left 12million people in East Africa in need of food aid.
Catherine helped secure vital funding during the crisis so the charity could provide food and clean water to drought-hit communities and nurse malnourished children back to health.
She also supported projects in Somaliland, where women currently face a one in 14 chance of dying in childbirth. In some areas, expectant mothers can be forced to drive up to six hours to give birth in a hospital. Catherine said working in Somalia was a “real eye-opener”.
“As my job revolved around monitoring Merlin’s grants and funding, it was really motivating to be able to see for myself where all the money goes,” she said.
“In Somalia more women die in childbirth than due to any other cause, and comprehensive basic healthcare in this area could save so many lives.”
Catherine says the experience has made her determined to pursue a career in humanitarian work.