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International Agencies Rally To Save Children In North East

A UNICEF official assessing a 7 month old baby for malutrition
A UNICEF official assessing a 7 month old baby for malnutrition

A $20 million project to provide food and nutritional support to families affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the North east is yielding positive results as over 1,000 families have been assisted with food and nutrition support.

The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, announced this in a joint press release with the World Food Programme, WFP, Action Against Hunger, AAH

and , in Abuja on Tuesday.

The three-year project is funded by the UK Department for International Development, DFID, and implemented by UNICEF, WFP, and AAH.

According to the statement, the project, which began in April this year and runs through March 2019, has already treated 30,000 children for severe acute malnutrition.

“More than 100,000 pregnant women have received iron folate; 60,000 children have been treated for diarrhoea, which can cause malnutrition or make it worse; 350,000 children have been given vitamin A supplements, boosting their immune systems and helping to protect them from illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles, which are frequently fatal in the area; and 40,000 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers have been helped with information on the best ways to feed young children in the circumstances in which they live,” the agencies announced.

However, an additional part of the project is a system of providing funds directly to families with the lowest incomes to enable them to buy nutritious food to prevent relapse after children have been treated for malnutrition.

So far, more than 7,000 families have received this cash assistance.

The statement pointed out that with more than 4.4 million people struggling with crisis and emergency food security levels in Borno and Yobe , the two states worst-hit by the insurgency, the three organizations are working together to give families in the two states greater access to food and to protect children from malnutrition.

According to statement, the three-year project is being carried out in collaboration with the primary health-care agencies of the government of Nigeria and Borno and Yobe states.

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It noted that the project is providing vitamin and mineral supplements for mothers and children, funding for families with severely malnourished children to buy nutritious food, treatment for children with diarrhoea, and advice for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers on how they can provide the best possible nutrition for their children.

Part of the statement reads: “With high levels of malnutrition even before the start of the Boko Haram conflict, the two most-affected states have seen food insecurity and malnutrition rates rise dramatically as a result of the fighting.

“In an already poor area, agriculture and markets have been disrupted by the fighting, which intensified towards the end of last year. The majority of food and seed stocks have been depleted, looted or destroyed, and many of the 1.8 million people who have fled their homes because of the conflict have had to leave behind what little stocks they had. Displacement has left many families with no means of earning a living.”

The agencies noted that despite the fact this is the harvest season when more food would normally be available, an estimated 55,000 people in Borno state are living in famine-like conditions and the number is predicted to double by the middle of next year, making longer-term interventions such as the DFID-funded project all the more important.

UNICEF said it would work with Nigerian authorities to administer the nutrition aspects of the programme in Borno state, which has the heaviest burden of malnutrition, while WFP is managing the cash transfers and AAH is handling both aspects of the project in Yobe state.

An estimated 400,000 children under the age of five in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, will suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year, according to UNICEF.

 

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