© UNICEF/HQ06-0197/Kamber

In Djibouti’s arid landscape, UNICEF and its partners support mobile feeding, health and education programmes as well as the provision of safe water and sanitation.


The results of the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 3 conducted in 2006 indicated an overall acute malnutrition rate of up to 20.7 per cent with 7.5 per cent of the population being severely malnourished. This is an alarming level by any standard, and largely exceeds the critical threshold of 15 per cent as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO). The worsening of the nutritional status started several years ago as shown by the 2002 Pan Arab Project for Family Health (PAPFAM) survey with a prevalence rate of acute malnutrition of 17.9 per cent, including 5.9 per cent for severe malnutrition. These data indicate that the nutritional status of children did not improve between 2002 and 2006. This is a typical situation of a ‘forgotten emergency’ detrimental to children’s survival.

While the case fatality rate among children suffering severe acute malnutrition dropped from 11 per cent in 2006 to 6 per cent at the end of June 2007, the issue is that less than 30 per cent of under-five children suffering from acute malnutrition are currently treated.

Djibouti, a semi-desert country, is affected by scarcity of water due to poor quality water and difficult access to available resources essentially abstracted from groundwater (more than 95 per cent). There is not a single perennial stream in country. When the too rare rains do occur, they regularly give life to untamed seasonal rivers, which pour almost untapped tremendous quantities of water in the Red Sea through well known – and by now feared, since the 2004 major floods – ‘oued flooding’. Many children, particularly girls, drop out of school and are denied their right to education because they are busy fetching water. The most deprived populations have to travel up to 30 km (return trip) daily to collect safe drinking water. In rural areas, 49.1 per cent of people do not have access to a protected source of drinking water, out of which at least 30 per cent resort to unprotected sources not conform to minimum sanitary requirements..


Nutrition: In 2008 UNICEF will support the country to reach at least 70 per cent of severely malnourished children and reduce the case fatality rate under 5 per cent through the following activities: scale up case management of moderate and severe acute malnutrition within health facilities and at community level; procure supplies for malnutrition case management; train health and community workers; reinforce nutrition education at community level; promote infant and young child feeding; strengthen nutritional surveillance; administer vitamin A supplementation; reinforce monitoring activities.

Water, sanitation and hygiene: UNICEF will focus on the rehabilitation of water pumping stations and promote diversity of water abstraction systems in rural areas; strengthen institutional and communities’ capacity; and promote sanitation and hygiene. Some of the key expected results will be the rehabilitation of 15 pumping stations; the protection of 90 traditional wells and the use of handpumps; the provision of 315 family water treatment kits; the training of 315 people on rural water infrastructure maintenance; and the construction of 15 latrines in public services.

Summary of UNICEF financial needs for 2008
Sector US$
Nutrition 700,000
Water, sanitation and hygiene 1,300,000
Total* 2,000,000

* The total includes a maximum recovery rate of 7 per cent. The actual recovery rate on contributions will be calculated in accordance with UNICEF Executive Board Decision 2006/7 dated 9 June 2006.


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