The Nigerien non-governmental organization, Karkara, launched this blanket feeding operation aimed at improving the nutritional status of children aged 6-23 months – who are often the most vulnerable to food shortages -- by providing 500,000 children (aged 6-23 months) with complementary food regardless of their nutritional status.
The Minister of Public Health, Nouhou Hassan, the World Food Programme and UNICEF Country Directors, along with local Zinder authorities officially launched the blanket feeding operation.
“The 500,000 children targeted are in areas found to have global acute malnutrition rates above the emergency threshold of 15% (as defined by WHO) during the June/July 2009 Nutrition and Child Survival Survey, and in areas identified during the last national rapid survey as food insecure,” said the Minister of Public Health, Pr Nouhou Hassan.
All regions of Niger, except Niamey, will benefit from supplementary food distribution where one child out of two suffers from stunting. More than half of the population in Niger is considered as food insecure with 3.4 million people needing immediate help.
“Children are the first to suffer from climatic shocks, a situation we are witnessing today: more and more children are being admitted into therapeutic feeding centers, says Guido Cornale, UNICEF Country Director in Niger. “To prevent their health from deteriorating, UNICEF supports the training of census takers, community mobilization and awareness-raising as well as malnutrition screening in children. These prevention activities are crucial in tackling the situation and ensuring the success of the blanket feeding operation.”
The Nutrition Directorate of the Ministry of Public Health, along with local authorities, coordinates the implementation of the blanket feeding.
A child’s monthly ration of complementary food includes 8.3 kilos of fortified corn soy blend (CSB+) with sugar and 0.75 KG of oil enriched with vitamin A. A total of 17.700 MT of food, provided by WFP, is necessary to feed 500.000 children.
‘The tight timeframe for the mobilization of resources, procurement and dispatching of food for this activity was a challenge, states Richard Verbeeck, WFP Country Director in Niger. The needed quantities of food were available only at international level, and Niger being a landlocked country, two to three months were necessary for them to arrive. WFP had to leverage funds as early as March to ensure timely implementation”.
This operation, supported by WFP and UNICEF and 13 NGOs, is part of the Government’s Response Plan and the Emergency Humanitarian Action Plan was launched following the Government’s appeal on March 10.