Category Archives: plumpy’nut

Giving Children a Chance in Post-Conflict Ivory Coast

Ten-month-old Sara has been found to be malnourished, and will receive treatment with plumpy'nut to make her strong and healthy again. Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d'Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition (Photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)

The conflict may have ended in the Ivory Coast, but building a lasting peace is now the struggle. This emphasis is on the rehabilitation of children so they do not suffer from hunger, malnutrition and disease. It also means giving them a chance to go to school.

Save the Children’s work in the Ivory Coast involves reducing the danger of malnutrition among infants. They are using a special food called Plumpy’nut, which was just featured on NBC Nightly News.

Save the Children’s Plumpy program has just gotten underway in the West African nation. Sophie Bruneau of Save the Children says there are “182 severe acute malnourished children in Outpatient Therapeutic Care in treatment under Plumpy’nut.” In addition, there are another 255 children receiving Supplementary Plumpy which is used to treat less severe cases of malnutrition.

Bruneau says Plumpy’nut has many benefits, including being “ready to eat, easy transport for the mothers, and easy to store.” Of further importance Plumpy’nut treatment “Allows the children to stay with the family and follow the treatment at home, that is essential in terms of child care practices.” Bruneau adds another key benefit of Plumpy’nut: “Children like it.”

The key now is to make sure Save the Children has enough Plumpy supplies to treat cases of child malnutrition. This is essential because during the reconstruction from the conflict, it will be very easy for children to fall into malnutrition. Families are going to be struggling without access to basic services. Rebuilding from conflict does not happen overnight and for communities already in poverty, there is not much to fall back on.

Plumpy’nut helps to keep things together during these emergency and recovery phases. It’s a short-term solution with long-term benefits as it can save the smallest children from being damaged for life from malnutrition.Bruneau says Plumpy’nut is very much the miracle food as “we can really see the weight gain week after week.”

For school age children the key is getting them fed and back to class. School meals programs, when given enough support, accomplish this. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) “plans to feed 568,000 school children in 3,320 primary schools” beginning in November.

WFP relies on voluntary donations from the international community. They have enough funds to get Ivory Coast school meals programs started again. WFP has not run the program since October 2010, right before the conflict began after disputed elections.

But will there be enough support to sustain the school feeding? Will there be enough support to help Ivory Coast eventually have its own national school lunch program? As the U.S. and other governments make their foreign policy amid budget crunches, will food aid for Ivory Coast and other countries get left out?

These questions remain to be answered. To help Save the Children, visit their Ivory Coast Emergency fund page. For more about the UN World Food Programme visit their home page and their We Feedback page

Article first published as Giving Children a Chance in Post-Conflict Ivory Coast on Blogcritics.

The UN World Food Programme plans to resume school feeding in the Ivory Coast. (WFP/Ramin Rafirasme)


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Filed under Africa, global hunger, Ivory Coast, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa, World Food Programme

Plumpy’nut in the Ivory Coast

Edesia, a producer of the life-saving food plumpy’nut, was profiled this week on NBC Nightly News. In my articles I have featured a number of countries that need plumpy’nut. One of them is the Ivory Coast as documented in the interview with Annie Bodmer-Roy of Save the Children. Here is one of the recipients of plumpy’nut.

Ten-month-old Sara has been found to be malnourished, and will receive treatment to make her strong and healthy again. Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d’Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition (Photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)


Plumpy’nut is a special peanut paste used to treat severe child malnutrition in small children. Countries suffering from conflict, natural disasters, or poverty need adequate supplies of plumpy’nut to combat child malnutrition. The plumpy’nut requires no cooking and can be easily stored and distributed. Children who suffer malnutrition in the first 1,000 days will have lasting physical and mental damage. (Photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)

 


Sara receives a supply of plumpy’nut: Genevieve, 34, heads home from the local health clinic with her son Komène and her daughter Sara, 10 months, asleep wrapped up against her mother’s back in the town of Guezon, western Ivory Coast. Genevieve has just received a bag full of plumpy’nut, a peanut paste packed with vitamins and minerals, designed to help babies like Sara recover from malnutrition. (photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)

Save the Children has an emergency fund set up for the Ivory Coast at their web site.

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Filed under Africa, Edesia, global hunger, Ivory Coast, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, West Africa

College Class Takes on Hunger and Poverty at Home and Abroad

The College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio (College of Mount St. Joseph photo)

This week I spoke to the College of Mount St. Joseph’s (MSJ) UN Millennium Development Goals class. The MSJ class just returned from a trip to the United Nations in New York where they met with UN delegates. The students aim to take action on ending hunger and poverty, achieving universal education for children, and working on other development goals.

The class runs for the fall semester. Professor Elizabeth Barkley says, “Through their Service Learning with local agencies, students begin to make an impact in their world and realize that, although problems can seem overwhelming and unsolvable, young people can still make a difference.”

At the class I discussed ways you can take action to support the Millennium Development goals. One of the easiest ways is playing a game called Free Rice . In fact, MSJ has its own team . Playing Free Rice, you answer vocabulary questions and other subjects. For each correct answer 10 grains of rice are donated to the UN World Food Programme to fight hunger. The rice is paid for by advertisers on the site.

Currently, Free Rice is supporting school feeding in Cambodia. Earlier this year Free Rice proceeds supported school feeding in Haiti.

What better way to support the Millennium Development goals than through school feeding? The meal at school fights child hunger and malnutrition and improves class attendance and performance, giving children an opportunity to escape the poverty trap through an education. In many developing countries, school meals are the only meal children receive the entire day. Free Rice is a quick and easy way to take action and help children get these vital school meals.

Another idea we discussed in the class was advocacy, making your voice heard to your elected officials. Current budget proposals in the Congress threaten achievement of the Millennium Development goals. For instance, Congress is proposing reducing both domestic and international food aid.

One of the programs being threatened is The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) which supports food banks across the U.S. With demand for food banks fast rising, TEFAP takes on even more urgency. However, the program is below last year’s funding levels and Congress is planning more cuts to it in 2012. Unless citizens take action, this vital source of supply for food banks is at risk.

One of the handouts I gave at class was a guide for how to use Twitter and Facebook to take action to contact your representatives on these key issues.

Another area where Congress is proposing cuts is to the U.S. Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole programs. These are two major global hunger-fighting initiatives sponsored by the United States. If funding is reduced, it is a major blow in the struggle to fight hunger and poverty around the world. Food for Peace was started back in the Eisenhower administration with the idea of sending U.S. surplus food abroad to help countries fight hunger and build stability.

The McGovern-Dole program supports international school feeding. For just several billion a year, we could provide food for children at school around the world. Contrast that to the 52 billion (at least) price tag for supporting nuclear weapons programs, with the Cold War long in the rear view mirror–something to think about if want to talk social justice and an intelligent search for peace in today’s world.

One of the highlights of the class was our discussion of Plumpy’nut, a vital life-saving nutrient. Ironically, at that very moment on NBC Nightly News, a segment featuring the plumpy’nut producer Edesia was being aired. Edesia and plumpy’nut have been featured In many of my articles over the past year, such as the Silent Guest , and also in the Providence Journal .

I talked about how critical Plumpy’nut is for rescuing children from dangerous malnutrition, and its easy storage and distribution. Plumpy’nut is a key part of the famine relief effort ongoing in East Africa, but is also critical to many other areas.

The problem with plumpy though is that low funding prevents aid agencies like the UN World Food Programme and UNICEF from having enough supply on hand. Therefore, many children needlessly suffer the effects of malnutrition. One of the students pointed out the need for establishing plumpy facilities in many countries. This creates jobs for the people in the country and provides a plumpy supply for faster and cheaper distribution.

I tried to talk the class into having a plumpy’nut mascot appear on campus for an event. Am waiting for word on this. I also learned that there was concern about the MSJ football team’s season. However, the team has compiled an outstanding record over the past decade with a number of conference titles. So history would suggest the team will do well.

And the class will do well also in working toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Professor Jim Bodle says a main purpose of the class is for students “to become aware of how our actions have an impact on the rest of the world.”

And that sums it up in a nutshell. Actions you take today can make a difference. Whether it’s service to a charity in your community, playing Free Rice, writing a representative, or even promoting Plumpy’nut using a mascot, all are ways you can take action to end hunger and poverty.

Article first published as College Class Takes on Hunger and Poverty at Home and Abroad on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Africa, Books, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, Edesia, global hunger, Ivory Coast, Kenya, malnutrition, Mercy Corps, Middle East, plumpy'nut, West Africa

Obama, Congress, Global Hunger and Plumpy’nut

Refugees about 200 meters from the Somali Border Refugees at the pre-registration center, about 200 m from the Somali Border, wait to enter into the transit center in Ethiopia Credit: WFP/Judith Schuler

President Obama and Congress need to work together in an area where bipartisan cooperation has been present before : fighting hunger.

With high unemployment at home, the demand for food banks is increasing. Child hunger rates in the U.S. are alarming. A recent Feeding America report says, “There are 314 counties in the U.S. where approximately one-third of children are struggling with food insecurity.” Is your county one of them?

Children are struggling to access food. Nothing threatens America’s future more than hungry and malnourished children.

Catherine D’Amato, president of the Greater Boston Food Bank, states, “These new statistics are staggering. Children suffer disproportionately from hunger. Not only are they more likely to experience hunger than adults, the impact on their young and growing bodies can leave lasting damage in the form of developmental delays that affect their health and school performance.”

While hunger is growing in the U.S., support from the federal government is down. Food banks around the country face the prospect of empty shelves, unless action is taken.

The Federal Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) needs to be fully funded for the rest of 2011, and also be assured of congressional support for next year. TEFAP provides supplies for emergency food banks around the country. Even with the increased demand for food aid, TEFAP is currently about 37 percent below last year’s funding level of 655 million. Food banks are facing supply shortages because of this. In addition, Congress has proposed reducing next year’s TEFAP funding level.

Vicki Escarra, the president of Feeding America, says “With the holiday season approaching and with food banks still facing the very real possibility that federal funding for food programs could be cut in FY2012, more help is still needed.”

On the global scene, hunger is so powerful a force that, if unchecked, will devastate America’s foreign policy. There is a famine taking place in East Africa, and tens of thousands of children have perished.

There are many other hunger crisis points where lack of food threatens lives, stability and development. Take the country where peace has remained elusive for years: Afghanistan. Fighting hunger is an essential part of the solution to the problem of peace in Afghanistan. Yet they too are experiencing drought. We can hear the warnings of a hunger storm there.

Silke Buhr of the UN World Food Programme says, “WFP is concerned that drought conditions in the country have had a significant impact on crop production and will lead to more people needing food assistance. These new needs come at a time when we are already facing major resource shortfalls and have already had to make some really tough decisions to priorities how we use our resources.”

WFP relies on voluntary funding for its hunger relief missions. Yet funding has been so low it has been forced to reduce the number of children who will receive school meals. What could be more inexpensive and basic to a country’s reconstruction than a school lunch? Yet right now almost 500,000 children are not able to get them. In developing countries, meals at school are often the only one children receive all day.

In Yemen, hunger and malnutrition threaten our effort to help bring stability to the Middle Eastern country. Special foods like plumpy’nut are needed by UNICEF to treat cases of child malnutrition in Yemen. This special peanut paste is produced by Providence-based Edesia and other factories around the globe. However, low funding prevents Yemen from obtaining the supply of plumpy’nut they need.

Plumpy’nut requires no special storage or preparation which is critical for a country in turmoil like Yemen. The constant power outages there can make food unsafe for children which leads to sickness and more malnutrition. Foods like plumpy’nut are safe for the children.

In Haiti we have to follow through and support the national school lunch program and agricultural reconstruction projects.

The focus also has to go beyond reacting to hunger crisis points to establishing conditions where these emergencies are less likely to occur. At least, their impact can be minimized. This means a year-round commitment to fighting and preventing hunger. The U.S. needs to be the leader.

If Congress goes through with proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Food for Peace and McGovern-Dole school lunch program, we place millions of lives in peril. Our own national security will be at risk too.

As Ronald Reagan once said, “people who are hungry are weak allies for freedom.” Hunger and suffering overseas create another generation of children stunted in growth and mind. American’s simply cannot afford to let that happen.

Article first published as Obama, Congress, Global Hunger and Plumpy’nut on Blogcritics.

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Filed under Africa, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, Edesia, global hunger, Ivory Coast, Josette Sheeran, Kenya, malnutrition, Middle East, plumpy'nut, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, West Africa, World Food Programme

Enter Plumpy’nut: The Life-Saving Food So Desperately Needed in Yemen

Yemen is living in peril with dangerous political instability, and violence in the south between the government and suspected Al-Qaeda militants.

UNICEF Nutrition Officer Dr. Rajia Sharhan holds a young child at a therapeutic feeding centre in Sana'a, the Yemeni capital. (UNICEF Yemen/2011/Halldorsson)

But for a newborn child in Yemen, the greatest danger lies in lack of nutrition, for their future hinges on whether they can receive it.

The first 1000 days of life are the critical window for children. If they do not receive the right foods, they can suffer lasting physical and mental damage. If this irreversible damage occurs, it will mean stunted growth, increased health problems, and an inability to learn. If you have this occurring in a country, you cannot progress.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) reports: “Half of Yemen’s children are chronically malnourished and 1 out of 10 does not live to reach the age of five. Such emergency levels of chronic malnutrition – or stunting – are second globally only to Afghanistan, the proportion of underweight children is the third highest in the world after India and Bangladesh.”

Enter Plumpy’nut. This is a special peanut paste that if given to children can rescue them from the potentially deadly malnutrition. It is desperately needed in Yemen. But not enough funding is provided to aid agencies for this to happen. Child hunger issues are often the victims of policy planning by the international community. Not enough emphasis is given.

If you want to help Yemen, send them Plumpy’nut. UNICEF is trying to provide “Plumpy” to as many malnourished Yemeni children as possible.

Dr. Wisam Al-timimi of UNICEF says: “We are planning to reach 36,000 severely acute malnourished children” at a cost of US$ 4.6 million. But there are 90,000 such cases of severely malnourished children in the country. More funding and resources would be needed to reach all of them. These are the most severe cases. Many other children are suffering from malnutrition.”

There are 450,000 children under five suffering from acute malnutrition and another 360,000 suffering from moderate acute malnutrition. These are different levels of the basic threat of malnutrition.

In short, small children are desperately in need of life-saving and life-changing food in Yemen. This takes on even more urgency when you consider that food prices have gone up in recent months in Yemen. There is more displacement in the south due to fighting, so the numbers of small children at risk is likely to increase in the coming months.

Dr. Al-timimi explains: “Cases of malnutrition is piling up now and soon we’ll be in a real humanitarian crisis; the same is applied as that group of very young children (that cohort who is enduring the political turmoil and absorbing the shocks) are currently at different stages of malnutrition and at the same time not receiving their routine vaccines…… unvaccinated children and malnutrition is a ticking time bomb.”

The best way the international community can help Yemen is through nutrition/health. These are the foundations of peace and progress in Yemen. It starts with plumpynut and health care for the youngest of children. It means supporting underfunded food aid programs run by the World Food Programme. It continues with building longer-term food security so foods like Plumpy’nut will no longer be needed.

It means looking down the road in Yemen, and staying ahead of the disaster of hunger and malnutrition. Acting now will be relatively inexpensive as opposed to waiting for a massive disaster to occur.

Article first published as 1000 Days of Peril in Yemen: The Children Must Be Fed on Blogcritics.

Tune in to NBC Nightly News on September 1st at 6:30 to see a story on plumpy’nut producer Edesia.

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Filed under Edesia, malnutrition, Middle East, plumpy'nut, UNICEF, World Food Programme, Yemen

Post-Conflict Ivory Coast: An Interview with Annie Bodmer-Roy of Save the Children

Ten-month-old Sara has been found to be malnourished, and will receive treatment to make her strong and healthy again. Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d'Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition (Photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)

Four months have passed since the conflict in the Ivory Coast came to an end following a disputed election. But the wounds run very deep in the West African nation.

There were thousands displaced by the fighting between supporters of President Alassane Ouattara and those of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo. Many of the refugees fear returning home. The conflict caused a loss of livelihoods, shelter, medical care and other basic services.

The Ivory Coast needs peace and reconciliation, as well as unity against the hunger and disease still attacking the population. Annie Bodmer-Roy of Save the Children recently talked about how the charity is taking action to help Ivory Coast recover from the violence.

What kinds of programs is Save the Children running in the Ivory Coast?

The conflict that hit the Ivory Coast following disputed elections in November 2010 had a huge impact on the population. As in conflict around the world, children have been hit the hardest. Pre-existing high levels of poverty even before the conflict – 49% of the population was living under the poverty line – were suddenly combined with large-scale loss of income as hundreds of thousands of families were forced to flee their homes for safety. This has meant that thousands of parents no longer have enough money to ensure enough food for their children. Widespread violence and looting also limited families’ access to health care and children’s access to schools as health workers and teachers fled the areas of fighting, hospitals were looted, and schools used as temporary camps for those families who had fled their homes.

In response to the increased needs of children and their families, Save the Children launched a large-scale emergency program, appealing for funds to help meet the immediate needs of children affected by the conflict. We’re currently operating across eight offices and are running seven different programs, including health; nutrition; food security and livelihoods; education; child protection; shelter; and water, sanitation and hygiene. We’re also running a civil society initiative where we provide small cash grants to local NGOs and community-based organisations for them to implement projects in their communities, enabling a local response to needs identified within the community as being the most pressing for families.

As so many families lost their means to an income, one initiative Save the Children has started running is a cash transfer programme, where the families most affected by the conflict are identified by our staff, and are provided with ID cards that allow them to take out money at specific banks we’ve partnered with throughout the country. In this way, families who have been displaced, families on their way back home, or those who have already returned, can access this cash when they are on the move and once they arrive, providing a buffer that will help them get through the day-to-day as they start building back their lives. The cash provided will enable families to buy food at local markets, ensuring their children will begin getting the nutritious food they need, while at the same time improving livelihoods for local farmers and vendors. So far we’ve helped close to 2,000 families through this project – and we’re scaling up in the coming weeks to provide this assistance to an additional 8,000 families.

What is the level of malnutrition among the children?

Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d’Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition. One in five children under five was considered underweight. With the outbreak of conflict and massive population movement, it has been difficult to gather accurate and up-to-date information on malnutrition rates; however Save the Children and other agencies working on malnutrition have observed worrying signs of increases in malnutrition, including some areas where severe acute malnutrition has increased in a matter of weeks. Save the Children has recently started up malnutrition screening and treatment for children under five in western Ivory Coast, where some of the worst of the fighting and looting took place during the conflict.

Are there any basic health services available to children?

One of the immediate results of the conflict was the breakdown in health services as hospitals and health centres closed in many areas due to the fighting, with health workers fleeing the areas hit by violence and the centres and hospitals themselves being looted and pillaged. Medicines and medical equipment were stolen, which meant that even once health workers began returning and hospitals began to re-open, patients were unable to receive the treatment they needed.

Another major concern has been health user fees – because so many families lost their means to an income, they could no longer afford medical care and treatment. As a result of advocacy by aid agencies like Save the Children however, the Ivorian government agreed to drop health user fees, passing a decree enabling families to access free health care throughout the country.

Today, health centres are largely open and running with the support of agencies like Save the Children, who ensure regular provision of medical supplies and essential medicines, as well as support in rehabilitating infrastructures destroyed during the conflict. For areas where there are no functioning health centres or hospitals running, Save the Children and other agencies have been running mobile outreach clinics, travelling to remote villages and towns to ensure that the health needs of children and their families’ are being addressed and proper care and treatment is provided.

What has been the psychological impact of the conflict?

Children have been exposed to enormous levels of violence and many have been separated from their families when they had to flee their homes. Save the Children’s teams have spoken to children who have fled violence in the west of the country who have seen their houses burnt down and family members killed. Even today, four months after the end of the fighting and over eight months since the elections, our teams are identifying children who had to leave relatives behind when they fled – and still do not know whether their family members are alive or dead. Some of the older children have lived through the 2002 conflict and have now been exposed to heavy violence in their lives for a second time – while it is clear that this has an immediate and profound impact on children, Save the Children is also concerned about the longer term psychological impact on children.

In the past weeks, our teams have spoken to children who consider the war to still be going on – despite the end of fighting and the resolution of the political crisis. We’ve also been to villages in the West where children no longer play in the same areas they used to go play in, as they no longer feel safe there. Save the Children is running regular play activities for children in Abidjan and in the West, areas hardest hit by the conflict. Through the spaces set up for these activities, Save the Children is providing an opportunity for children to play together in a safe area, getting a chance to be children again and regain a sense of normalcy to help them recover from the difficulties they’ve faced in the past months. The spaces also give children the chance to speak to an adult they can trust, trained by Save the Children to help children talk through their problems and ensure children have someone who will listen.

How can someone help Save the Children in the Ivory Coast?

Although the political crisis sparked by last year’s elections has now been resolved, immediate needs remain for hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are still displaced from their homes even today. Save the Children is running an emergency response in the Ivory Coast to make sure that children are able to access enough nutritious food to stay healthy and strong; medical care and treatment; and clean drinking water. We’re also working closely with other agencies and the government so that children are well-protected against violence, abuse and exploitation, also making sure that children can get back into school. As families begin to return home, we are looking at transitioning some of our programmes into longer-term work to ensure that even once the immediate crisis has passed, children and their families are not forgotten, and continue to receive the assistance they need to build their lives back.

Someone who wanted to help Save the Children in the Ivory Coast can keep up to date on what we’re doing by signing up to Save the Children’s email updates, sent out regularly to supporters, providing information on what we’re doing on the ground. You can also check out our webpage on the Ivory Coast at our website and spread the word among your friends and family about what we’re doing to help children recover from the conflict. You can also donate here to help us continue our work and make sure we have the funding we need to continue to meet the needs of children and their families in the Ivory Coast.

Article first published as Post-Conflict Ivory Coast: An Interview with Annie Bodmer-Roy of Save the Children on Blogcritics.

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Filed under global hunger, Ivory Coast, malnutrition, peace, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, West Africa

A New Friendship Train to Fight Global Hunger

When hunger ravaged Europe after World War II how did Americans respond? They started a Friendship Train to feed the hungry and help win the peace after the war.

Let’s start a New Friendship Train today to reach the hungry overseas starting first with East Africa which is suffering from famine and a severe drought. Then the train will move to provide relief to drought afflicted Afghanistan. Yemen, Haiti, the Ivory Coast and many other countries also need support.

Start the New Friendship Train. You can donate at these aid agencies……
 

First Destination: East Africa…To Feed the Hungry and Malnourished…..

Train images courtesy of Shortlines of Chicago Historical Society. Crossing lights image courtesy of Amazing Animations.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Catholic Relief Services, drought, East Africa, East Africa drought, global hunger, History, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, School feeding, Somalia, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, UNICEF, World Food Programme, World Vision

Could Yemen be the Next Somalia?

UNICEF Nutrition Officer Dr. Rajia Sharhan holds a young child at a therapeutic feeding centre in Sana'a, the Yemeni capital. (UNICEF Yemen/2011/Halldorsson)

With months of political unrest layered upon an already hungry and impoverished population, a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in Yemen. The suffering is taking place on many fronts.

Recent fighting in southern Yemen between the government and suspected Al Qaeda militants is causing displacement and malnutrition, particularly among children. There are also hundreds of thousands of displaced persons from a conflict in the North who need humanitarian assistance. Many Yemenis are impacted by high food prices.

Add this together and you have a Somalia-size humanitarian disaster potentially in the offing – that is, if no action is taken. In an IRIN News story Geert Cappelaere of UNICEF says, “Yemen could become the next Somalia as child malnutrition is as big as it is in the Horn of Africa.”

Even before the political unrest began, aid agencies like the World Food Programme and UNICEF were short on funding and unable to reach all those in need. Hunger and malnutrition were severe problems. Food prices were high .

Instability has resulted in a shortage of fuel, electricity and other basic services. Food prices have skyrocketed even higher. Families have skipped meals or cut back on certain food items needed for a healthy diet.

A gradual breakdown of public services is taking place. When this happens, it creates a devastating domino effect that is often silent and potentially deadly. You have the most dreaded scenario unfolding: unvaccinated and malnourished children.

A recent UNICEF report states, “Governorates continue to report an average of 20% non-operational vaccinating facilities, either because health workers are unable to travel to the health facilities or cold chain refrigeration is disrupted due to lack of electricity and gas.”

Dr Rajia Ahmed Sharhan of UNICEF says, “Families are finding it difficult to go to health facilities due to the high cost of transport especially when they are from villages and are far from health centers.” The result is fewer visits by families to get what they most desperately need.

When health interventions can be applied, they are enormously successful. Take for instance the miracle food plumpy’nut, which needs to be in full supply in Yemen to treat child malnutrition.

Dr. Sharhan says, “Children who have received plumpy’nut were cured from malnutrition within 45 days maximum…some get cured very fast within 30 days. You can see the results immediately.” Plumpy’nut rescues children from lifelong physical and mental damage that can occur early in life from lack of nourishment. Imagine what long-term change could occur in Yemen if a whole generation of children could be saved from the damaging malnutrition.

UNICEF should be provided with a full supply of plumpy’nut to treat all the cases of malnutrition. It would be an inexpensive investment for the international community to make. Ultimately, it is the most important.

A coalition of nations could intervene now and ease the humanitarian crisis taking place in Yemen. This means full support of UNICEF , the World Food Programme and other aid agencies operating there.

Now is the time for this intervention, rather than waiting till you have an epic-scale humanitarian disaster. Enough warnings have been sounded.

Article first published as Could Yemen be the Next Somalia? on Blogcritics.

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Filed under malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Somalia, UNICEF, Yemen

Haiti: Keeping Focused on Fighting Hunger

Tropical storm Emily just passed through Haiti, fortunately never developing into a hurricane. But it should serve as a reminder that Haiti is still very vulnerable to the shock of these storms. It’s important to build up Haiti’s resiliency so it can better withstand the risk of flooding that comes with these heavy rains.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP), as it seeks to help Haiti boost its food production, sponsors projects aimed at preventing damage to agriculture from flooding.

In addition, other WFP Food/Cash for Work projects are aimed at rubble removal, still very much a task even more than a year after the earthquake. There is still a long way to go in Haiti’s reconstruction. That is why the World Food Programme is urging support for its programs in Haiti. Malnutrition and poverty are still massive challenges for Haitians to overcome

WFP’s Stephanie Tremblay reports that the agency is facing a funding shortage for its programs. Without this funding, programs to protect the poor and boost agriculture and other projects will be at risk. WFP’s biggest project, school feeding, will be in jeopardy without funding.

Tremblay says, “We need an additional $14 million to purchase food – that will cover the needs of our school meals and nutrition programs – It also includes a take-home ration that we give students at the beginning of the school year to help families cope with back-to-school costs.”

WFP currently is reaching 1.1 million students with school meals as it helps the government build a national program. There is a long way to go to provide school meals for all children in Haiti.

Currently, there are many children in Haiti not yet enrolled in school. A national school lunch program needs to be developed to reach all these children. The food is what encourages parents to send their children to school.

Principal Sister Bernadette says Haitian children would “simply be too weak to study if they weren’t able to eat something at school. It’s important for them to have a meal here, most of them come from very poor families.” Marie Anika, 8, speaks for all children worldwide when she says, “It would be terrible if we didn’t get a meal at school. I really wouldn’t like that.”

WFP also needs $27 million to keep its cash/food for work projects, which are critical to the reconstruction, moving in the right direction.

The media spotlight may have moved on from Haiti, but the tremendous need is still very much present.

Article first published as Haiti: Keeping Focused on Fighting Hunger on Blogcritics.

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Filed under malnutrition, plumpy'nut, School feeding

Plumpy’nut in Somalia – An Update from CESVI

Elizabeth Stoltz of Plumpy’nut Press just interviewed Irene Moora, a Nutrition Specialist from CESVI, an Italian humanitarian organization, who just returned from Galkayo, Somalia. Learn about the use of the miracle food in the famine relief mission in Somalia.

Read the interview at Plumpy’nut Press.

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Filed under East Africa, malnutrition, plumpy'nut, Somalia