News / Africa

Aid Agency Says Worse-Than-Usual Niger Malnutrition Season Nearing Its Peak

Drew Hinshaw

In Niger more than two million children are entering the peak of what authorities say is a particularly devastating hunger season causing a severe risk of malnutrition-related fatalities.

Niger has a long history with hunger as chronic food shortages stretch from May to September. The hardest days of the hunger season are approaching. Dr. Susan Shepherd is a medical advisor for the aid group Doctors Without Borders.

"Families are basically subsisting on small amounts of millet porridge, and this of course is the equivalent of trying to ask a young child to grow and thrive on bread and water," says Dr. Shepherd. "So it's not surprising that children, they lose weight, they become increasingly vulnerable to common infections and malaria also starts to exact its toll."

The group is delivering vitamin-fortified milk powder to between 150,000 and 300,000 children in a year that authorities say is worse than normal.

"But every year is a particularly bad year in Niger," she adds. "It's just a matter of degrees."

In the capital Niamey, and in regional health centers, Shepherd says national authorities have shown progress in charting the local response to the annual emergency. She says each year the country's health ministry has increasingly fine tuned its now five-year-old national anti-malnutrition program.

Niger's doctors and nurses, she says, have more tools and more training to combat malnutrition, and international aid groups are doing more preventative work, distributing high value supplementary food to children before the hunger season starts.

"I think there is an increasing recognition of that need," says Shepherd. "But every year I've worked in Niger we've taken care of increasing numbers of children regardless of whether harvests are good or less good. It's difficult to say that for the children in Niger things are overall getting better."

Like its Sahelian neighbors, Niger is a wide and rural country whose far-flung population is often difficult to reach for food aid and medical teams.

Shephard says that's why aid groups must do more in the offseason to fight malnutrition and prepare staff and supplies for the yearly hunger months.

"We know this is coming and there's no need to scramble for last minute program," she added. "We're arriving too late. Protective and preventive programs start best when they start early."

The United Nations World Food Program estimates life expectancy in the country at just over 44 years. And that does not include the one-out-of-every five children in Niger who do not survive past the age of four.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid