By Anthea Moore
Nouakchott, Mauritania, 23 April 2012 – At 10:40 Sunday morning, a UPS flight carrying 46,000 kg of live-saving UNICEF supplies touched down in Nouakchott, Mauritania. It was the first dedicated cargo flight of UNICEF supplies shipped to Mauritania, donated by UPS in cooperation with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.
|UNICEF reports on the delivery of 46,000 kg of life-saving UNICEF supplies to crisis-affected communities in Mauritania, through a collaboration between UPS and the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. Photo © UNICEF/NYHQ2012-0295/Martel Watch in RealPlayer|
The supplies will be used to respond to the needs of children and communities affected by the worsening nutrition crisis. The supplies will also assist refugees who have fled conflict in nearby Mali as well as the communities hosting them.
Worst lean season in years
Mauritania is afflicted by its worst lean season in years, part of the food crisis occurring throughout the Sahel region of Africa. Drought, rising food prices and failed harvests have left 700,000 people in Mauritania food insecure. Many children are now suffering from malnutrition, and many more are expected to be affected before the end of the lean season in late September.
In December 2011, 35,000 children were already suffering from global acute malnutrition, and more than 5,000 of those had severe acute malnutrition, a deadly condition. It is estimated that almost 12,600 children could face severe acute malnutrition.
|© UNICEF Mauritania/2012/Martel|
|UNICEF staff unload supplies from a UPS flight in Nouakchott, Mauritania.|
The situation has been complicated by the arrival of more than 56,000 refugees from Mali, who are pouring into one of the most food insecure regions of Mauritania. The refugees are mostly women and children.
Critical supplies for those at risk
The pressure of these two overlapping crises places impoverished communities at great risk. But Mauritania is a vast country with a dispersed population, making it difficult to reach those most in need.
The flight donated by UPS allows UNICEF and its partners to respond more rapidly, getting supplies to those who need them faster.
|© UNICEF Mauritania/2012/Martel|
|Boxes of ready-to-use therapeutic food are unloaded from a UPS flight in in Nouakchott, Mauritania.|
The supplies include 8,700 kgs of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUFT), which will treat 460 children suffering severe acute malnutrition; 5,000 hygiene kits, which will provide soap, towels and other materials for 10,000 people; and medicines including 10,000 folic acid tablets and 12,000 doses of paediatric antibiotics.
Also included in the delivery were six medical kits, with enough supplies to treat 60,000 people for three months; seven school tents to establish temporary schools in the refugee camp for 840 children; and six collapsible water tanks, which will provide water for drinking, cooking and cleaning for 4,000 refugees per day.
UNICEF is requesting an initial US$3.2 million to meet the needs of children and communities in Mauritania affected by the nutrition crisis. US$2.2 million in funding has been received to date.
UNICEF is also requesting an initial US$4.7 million to meet the needs of children and women in refugee camps and host communities for the next 6 months. US$795,000 has been received so far, just 16 per cent of the funding required.
Food crisis in the Sahel