News / Africa

Severe Malnutrition Threatens Niger's Children

Relief workers say severe food shortages currently sweeping the Eastern Sahel region will affect as many as 10 million people in coming months. The United Nations says 850,000 children are at risk.

The United Nations says severe food shortages brought on by poor harvests have put tens of thousands of children in Niger at risk of severe, life-threatening malnutrition.

This mother has brought her unconscious, six-month-old son to a health center in the Maradi region of southern Niger. The doctor examining the baby says he suffers from severe malnutrition and dehydration.

The baby is incredibly skinny, the doctor says. His eyes are sunken in, his mouth gaping open. The baby is 6-months-old and weighs just two kilos, and the doctor says his condition is critical. He says the baby suffers from chronic malnutrition that has recently intensified into an acute episode.  

Relief workers say severe food shortages currently sweeping the Eastern Sahel region will affect as many as 10 million people in coming months. The United Nations says 850,000 children are at risk.

Aid workers say the West African country of Niger will be the hardest hit. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, and hunger rates were already high among the country's children. A 2009 survey found that one in ten children, under age five, in Niger suffered from acute malnutrition.

Deputy director for the U.N. children's fund in Niger, Guido Borghese, said this year's food crisis could take the situation from bad to worse.

Borghese says if nothing is done, over the next 12 months, we could see as many as 1.2 million children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and 378,000 affected by severe malnutrition. He says children with severe malnutrition are considered sick and need hospital treatment to avoid life-threatening complications.

So far this year, there have been 45,000 cases of severe malnutrition recorded, which UNICEF's Borghese says is significantly higher than last year's figures but lower than predicted. It is a sign, he says, that current intervention is working, but the situation is still precarious. The food crisis, he says, will not hits its peak until the summer.

Niger's government says half of its 15 million people are currently facing food insecurity.

Aid workers say the food shortage is a result of irregular rainfall in 2009 that led to poor harvests and severe lacks of water and grazing land for animals. High food prices and low wages, they say, have further aggravated the problem.

UNICEF's Borghese says families in Niger are extremely vulnerable to even slight climate changes that can then affect food availability. He says once children are affected by acute malnutrition, they get sick more easily and their physical and mental development can be delayed.

"Key challenges"

Borghese says they face two key challenges on the ground - ensuring there are enough trained health workers to identify and treat malnourished children and obtaining adequate supplies of nutrient-packed therapeutic food for those children who need it.

Partnered with international aid workers, Niger's government has launched an emergency response plan to address both general food security and malnutrition among especially vulnerable groups including children and pregnant or nursing women.

The United Nations World Food Program has expanded its efforts in Niger and plans to deliver food to more than two million people there from May to October. The WFP is calling for $180 million in funding, of which only about half has been received so far.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid