GOURGADJI – Across the country, food stocks are running low or have completely run out. The next harvest, starting in October, is still several months away. During this time, malnutrition rates tend to rise.
As a preventative measure, WFP Burkina Faso is carrying out blanket feeding in six of the country’s 13 regions. The activity is called “blanket” feeding because all children between 6 and 59 months receive nutrition supplements. In total, WFP plans to reach 86,000 children across the country through this activity in 2013.
At Gourgadji Health Centre in the Sahel Region, in the northern tip of Burkina Faso, bordering Mali and Niger, 600 children are being targeted for blanket feeding.
“The fight against malnutrition is close to our hearts,” said the Mayor of Gourgadji, Sadio Ouedraogo, on the day the activity was launched in his region. “These children here today are Gourgadji’s men and women of tomorrow,” he said, adding that the area faces infrastructural problems such as the lack of clean and adequate water sources.
Fatoumata Diallo, 30, holds her son as she waits to receive the ration of Supercereal Plus, which is a fortified corn-soya flour blend with milk powder, which provides fat and protein. It is then cooked as a porridge.
Last year during the food crisis, her son, Mamadou Diande, 20 months old, was treated for severe acute malnutrition at this health centre, but this year he is healthy enough to receive just the blanket feeding ration. “I wash out the pot well. Then I make the porridge for him which is good for his health,” said Fatoumata.
Mothers receive four packets of Supercereal, which equals six kilograms. “We have been told to use one packet a week,” said Fatoumata. Following the monthly distribution, volunteer health workers visit the beneficiaries in their homes to ensure the children are being fed the food and that it is being prepared properly.. The volunteers who conduct the screening and distributions have been trained by local health workers, who in turn were trained by WFP.
The programme is implemented by the Burkinabé Red Cross in partnership with the Belgian Red Cross. The German Ambassador to Burkina Faso, Christian Germann, who was present at the launch, commended the strong teamwork between the local authorities, the Red Cross, WFP and UNICEF. “This is how results are achieved, when work is done together,” he said.
Blanket feeding activities have been made possible by generous contributions from Australia, Belgium, Canada and Germany.