NIAMEY, 17 September 2012 - The severity of the food and nutrition crisis in Niger has been confirmed by a national survey revealing high rates of malnutrition amongst children under the age of five. The survey also shows progress made by the Government and its partners in treating children suffering from malnutrition.
The survey was conducted by the National Statistics Institute (INS) in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF and other partners. It calls for both renewed interventions to break the vicious cycle of malnutrition and for efforts to overcome structural causes of persistent vulnerability.
According to the survey results, the rate of global acute malnutrition (GAM) among children under five remains above the 10 per cent alert level as per the humanitarian minimum Sphere standards, with regional disparities ranging from 10.4 per cent in Niger’s capital Niamey to 16.7 per cent in the Diffa region. This rate is higher compared to June 2011, when there was a good harvest - but is below the prevalence registered in June 2010 during the last food and nutrition crisis in Niger.
The situation is particularly worrying in four of the country’s eight regions. These are Diffa, Maradi, Zinder and Tillaberi, where GAM rates are above the emergency threshold of 15 per cent. The situation of children aged six months to 23 months is of high concern as one in five children in this age group suffers from severe acute malnutrition.
Outcomes of the survey also show the effectiveness of the emergency response to the nutritional crisis in Niger. Despite food insecurity affecting a large proportion of the population, the mortality rate among children under five fell from 0.8 per 10,000 children per day in 2010, to 0.65 in 2012. This is below the internationally recognized emergency threshold of 1 per 10,000 children per day.
"The significant interventions implemented and the efforts made by all humanitarian actors and donors have helped save the lives of tens of thousands of children," said Mr. Soumana Sanda, Nigerien Minister of Health. "Without these concerted actions by the government and the humanitarian community, malnutrition rates would certainly have reached higher levels.”
During the first eight months in 2012, more than half a million children under five suffering from acute malnutrition were treated in more than 2,000 public health centres, supported by UNICEF, WFP and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Nearly 480,000 children were treated through outpatient services due to the effective and responsive nutritional care services.
Since April 2012, the Government, WFP, UNICEF and NGOs have provided 713,000 children under-two years of age and 237,000 lactating women with a free and appropriate nutritional diet through a blanket food distribution programme to prevent malnutrition among children and mothers living in areas suffering from food shortage. In addition, while other food distribution programmes are benefiting around four million people to meet their daily needs, another one million people are being supported through non-conditional cash transfer assistance.
Thousands of children suffering from malnutrition continue to arrive at health centres every week, especially as the rainy season unfolds during which malaria outbreaks are normally high. "We must re-energize our efforts to address the root causes of malnutrition,” said Minister Soumana Sanda. “Positive results have been achieved in treating and saving the lives of children, but more needs to be done. The battle against malnutrition is far from won and sustainable interventions must be made available to every child, building on the significant progress made.”
UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
For more information, please contact:
Mahamidou Illo, Communication Department, Niger Public Health -
Tel +227 96 56 02 30;
Anne Boher, UNICEF Niger Chief of Communication -
Tel. +227 96 96 21 59;
Vigno Hounkali, WFP Niger Communication Officer -
Tel. +227 91 20 55 85;
Dr Mariama Abdoulaye, WHO Niger, Nutrition Manager –
Tel + 227 96 59 54 40