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UNICEF sounds alert over alarming rates of child malnutrition in Chad

New survey shows rates well above emergency levels in the country’s Sahelian belt

N’DJAMENA, CHAD 24 September 2010 – An expanded programme to save the lives of children is being put in place after a survey of under-5s revealed high malnutrition rates in six of the country’s regions.

The nutrition survey was conducted by UNICEF and the Ministry of Health in the regions of Lac, Hadjer-Lamis, Batha, Guera, Ouaddai and Wadi-Fira. Carried out in partnership with World Food Programme (WFP) and funded by the European Commission for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), it reveals global acute malnutrition rates ranging from 15.2 to 24.9 per cent, all above the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 per cent.

“We have been responding to a nutritional crisis which has been threatening the lives and well being of children since the beginning of the year”, said UNICEF Representative in the country, Dr. Marzio Babille, “but these latest figures prove that families have been experiencing a severe reduction in their ability to cope and fend for themselves.”

“UNICEF, government and partners are scaling up interventions and intensifying efforts in these regions with the aim of supporting 50,000 of the most vulnerable children. To do this, we appeal to donors to make up the eight million dollar shortfall that exists in the multi-sector emergency appeal, including interventions in the fields of Health and Nutrition, Water supply, sanitation and hygiene and, HIV/AIDS for $19 million made earlier this year,” Dr. Babille concluded.

Note to editors
Historically, the Sahel belt of Chad is affected by prolonged periods of food insecurity resulting in poor health and nutrition indicators for children and women. In the recent past, the region has increasingly suffered from consequences of climate change impact, namely the deteriorating quantity of rainfall, and other factors such as food price rise and increased migration of labour, thus leaving children and women more vulnerable.

During the agricultural season 2009-2010, rainfall was inadequate both in quantity and in geographical distribution, which led to a severe drop in harvest and livestock production. Cereal production was reduced by 34 per cent in the country compared to 2008-2009.

The situation is further exacerbated by a weak health system in Chad, low prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding, poor access to safe drinking water and occurrence of recurrent outbreaks such as measles and meningitis.

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:
Hector Calderon, Chief Communications
Tel +235 66 36 00 42

Patrick McCormick, UNICEF New York;
Tel + 1 212 326 7426;




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