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European Union €5m cash injection boosts UNICEF fight against Niger nutrition crisis

NIAMEY, NIGER, June 1st 2010 – The European Commission (EC) has contributed €5m to stop the escalating nutrition crisis in Niger. UNICEF Niger and its partners will use the fund over the next 17 months to address the country’s food scarcity and nutritional problems, targeting the most vulnerable children aged between six months and five years.

“This funding will go a long way towards helping to stem what is a very serious national crisis” says Guido Cornale, UNICEF Representative in Niger. “We are working hard with the European Commission and our partners to end malnutrition amongst the most vulnerable in Niger – ie children under five-years old. The most critical regions include Maradi, Zinder and Diffa, though towns such as Tillabery, Agadez and the capital city, Niamey, are themselves not immune.”

The second European Union Food Facility (EUFF) will also be accessed to strengthen Niger’s public health service in relation to severe acute malnutrition; to treat 20,000 severely malnourished children; to buy medical equipment to treat infection and to communicate amongst Nigerien families the essential nature of nutritional and feeding practices for children, as well as the importance of mothers’ own well-being. This EUFF is added to the €3m given to UNICEF Niger in 2009 for the treatment of 65,000 severely malnourished children under-five years old. 

Sporadic rainfall over the past year is the main culprit. Harvests have failed before, but the situation is rapidly deteriorating. Between January and May this year, nearly 75,000 children have been treated for severe acute malnutrition at therapeutic feeding centres throughout the country. Spiked food prices have exacerbated the situation.

This situation has serious implications on morbidity and mortality rates amongst children aged under-five and pregnant and lactating women. It is estimated that 378,000 cases of severe acute malnutrition and 1.2 million cases of moderate acute malnutrition among children under five will be registered in 2010, if urgent actions are not taken.

About the EC & Partners:
In partnership with the European Commission and its humanitarian office (ECHO), UNICEF Niger is further strengthening its coordination role in nutrition security working closely with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Niger Ministry of Health.  The following NGOs are also partners: Save the Children (UK); MSF Belgium, Switzerland and Spain; Red Cross Niger, Spain and France; Forsani; World Vision; Cadev; Helen Keller International; Aquadev and Concern.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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 further information please contact:
Anne Boher, UNICEF Niger, Head of Communications.
Tel.: +227 96 96 21 59; 

Maïtourare Boulama, EU Delegation in Niger.
Tel +227 20 73 27 73 ;

François Duboc, ECHO West Africa Office.
Tel +221 33 86 98 000;




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