Niamey-Niger/Geneva/New York – 29 September 2005 - Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), UNICEF and the World Food Program (WFP) launch a joint Targeted Supplementary Feeding Initiative in Zinder, southern Niger.
Even if the lean season is almost over in most areas of Niger, children continue to pay the highest tribute to the nutrition crisis. This initiative will extend care and protection to a large and isolated population of children under five years of age in Zinder, one of the regions with the highest malnutrition rates in Niger. Trained front-line health workers will screen over 250,000 underfives using mid-upper arm circumference so as to identify an estimated 45,000 children with severe or moderate malnutrition. Children with severe malnutrition will be referred to the ongoing therapeutic feeding programs; families of children with moderate malnutrition will receive a month’s ration of a high-nutrient supplementary food for children (UNIMIX/CSB).
Harvest has started in various areas of Niger. However, this does not mean that the nutrition crisis is over. “This crisis is far from over, even if upcoming crops are expected to be good” says UNICEF’s Regional Nutrition Adviser, Dr. Victor Aguayo. “This nutrition crisis is not about availability of food in the fields or in the markets; it is about lack of access to food, lack of access to essential health services and lack of access to life-saving information and support on child feeding and care in a context of poverty”.
Children with acute malnutrition have weakened immune systems – unable to fight disease – and are at a high risk of disease and death during this critical period. In response to the extremely fragile situation of children in Niger, the 499 UNICEF-supported feeding programmes have admitted over 123,300 children with acute malnutrition between July 1st and September 30th. This has been possible through a coordinated effort with the Ministry of Health and 20 national and international NGO-partners. UNICEF has ensured an uninterrupted pipeline of therapeutic and supplementary foods to treat children with severe and moderate acute malnutrition.
As of September 30th, MSF, UNICEF and WFP will joint forces to implement the largest ever village-based targeted supplementary feeding initiative in Niger. This initiative shows the strength of partnership and synergy among actors at the field level” says Dr. Aguayo. “This joint effort will ensure a safety net to protect children from severe malnutrition and reduce child mortality level in Niger”.
For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:
Niger: Natalie Fol, Communications Officer. Tel: (227) 723 008, 722 840.
Damien Personnaz, Communications Officer. Tel: +41 22 909 5716 / +41 79 216 94 01
Gordon Weiss, Emergency Communication Officer. 1-212-326-7426.