The government of Niger and partners pursue efforts to address malnutrition
Niamey, Niger, 17 September 2012 - The severity of the food and nutrition crisis affecting Niger has been shown by a survey that reveals high rates of malnutrition amongst children under the age of five. The study also shows major achievements by the Government and its partners in treating children suffering from malnutrition.
This work was conducted by the National Statistics Institute (INS) in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP), the United Nations Fund for Children (UNICEF) and other partners, and calls for renewed interventions to break the vicious cycle of malnutrition along with 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% alert level set by Sphere standards, with regional disparities ranging from 10.4% in Niamey, the capital, to 16.7% in the region of Diffa. This rate is higher compared to June 2011, in which 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 eight regions. These are Diffa, Maradi, Zinder and Tillaberi, where severe malnutrition rates are above the emergency threshold of 15%. The situation of children aged 6 to 23 months is of high concern as one in five suffers from acute malnutrition.
Outcomes of the survey show the effectiveness of the emergency response to the nutritional crisis Niger is currently facing. Despite the food insecurity that is affecting a large proportion of the population the mortality rate among children under five fell from 0.8 in 2010, to 0.65 in 2012. This is well 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. Sanda Soumana, 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 have been 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 thanks to the effective and responsive nutritional care services.
Since April, the Government, WFP, UNICEF and NGOs have helped 713,000 children under-two and 237,000 lactating women receive a free and appropriate nutritional diet through a blanket food distribution programme to prevent malnutrition among children and mothers living in areas suffering with 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 centers 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 this is not enough. The battle against malnutrition is far from won, building on the significant progress made, sustainable interventions must be made available to every child," he concluded.
For more information, please contact:
Mahamidou Illo, Communication Department, Niger Public Health - Tel. +227 96 56 02 30; Illo.firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne Boher, UNICEF Niger Chief of Communication - Tel. +227 96 96 21 59; email@example.com
Vigno Hounkali, WFP Niger Communication Officer - Tel. +227 91 20 55 85; vigno.hounkanli@ wfp.org
Dr Mariama Abdoulaye, WHO Niger, Nutrition Manager – Tel. +227 96 59 54 40