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Fighting Malnutrition In Niger

In his latest post about how WFP uses nutritional products in emergency situations, WFP programming officer Guillaume Foliot looks at the supplementary feeding set up in Niger last year to prevent a further deterioration in malnutrition amid drought, poor harvests and high food prices.

After two national surveys in Niger showed that the number of people facing malnourishment had significantly increased, WFP launched an emergency operation in July 2010, placing a special focus on nutrition.

One positive factor in the emergency operation was that the onset of the food crisis was slow and did not involve a destruction of infrastructure. Therefore, compared to Haiti and Pakistan, it was easier to intervene on nutrition levels.

Protection ration for families

WFP launched a blanket supplementary feeding programme during the lean season to prevent soaring malnourishment levels. It covered all children 6–24 months in regions where the GAM rate approached or exceeded the emergency threshold of 15 percent. All children in this age group irrespective of their nutritional status received either a ration of Plumpy’Doz or corn-soya blend, oil and sugar.

To limit intra-household sharing of the child’s highly nutritious food ration, a protection ration consisting of cereal, pulses and oil was distributed to the child’s family initially. With the beginning of the harvest season in November the caseload for food protection rations could be reduced.

The most vulnerable families are still covered by a protection ration which now, however, consists of cash. This change from food to cash was introduced to avoid a disruption of markets during the harvest season.

Preventing severe malnourishment
In addition to blanket supplementary feeding, a targeted supplementary feeding programme for the treatment of moderately acute malnourished children 6–59 months and pregnant and lactating women is currently being implemented.
Children receive Supplementary Plumpy while pregnant and lactating women are provided with a corn-soya blend, oil and sugar ration.

In addition WFP also supports the treatment of severely malnourished children in therapeutic feeding centres led by UNICEF by providing a supplementary food ration of cereals, pulses, oil and corn-soya blend for the child’s care-taker. This enables her/him to stay at the centre until the end of the treatment.