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UK provides UNICEF with new funding to tackle child malnutrition in Niger

  |   SUN Country Network, SUN Donor Network

UNICEF Niger/Dicko

The United Kingdom’s Department for International Development is supporting the UNICEF nutrition programme in Niger with an additional contribution of US$6,7 million over a period of two years. This new contribution will support UNICEF and partners in their efforts to contribute to reducing the incidence of acute malnutrition and prevent mortality in children suffering from severe acute malnutrition while strengthening systems and building resilience in emergency-affected areas of Niger.

“This new contribution will be key in supporting the implementation of our programme in the most affected areas so the nutritional status of children with high risk is protected and the lives of those suffering from acute malnutrition are saved. We are profoundly grateful that the UK Government has once again committed to the children of Niger” states Dr. Félicité Tchibindat, UNICEF Representative in Niger.

The support will focus on four regions – Zinder, Maradi, Tahoua, Tillaberi – where high levels of acute malnutrition and/or conflicts are recorded. The recent national nutrition survey conducted in Niger (August-September 2019) has shown that the nutrition situation remains of serious concerns in the country with Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence of 10.7 per cent and Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) prevalence of 2.7 per cent. Despite recent efforts, severe acute malnutrition prevalence and burden remain extremely high. On average annually, 350,000 to 400,000 children under the age of five are admitted to nutritional programmes in Niger.

“High levels of malnutrition have multidimensional consequences for children which will impact resilience and long-term development of households and children, including intergenerational effects. Addressing malnutrition is not only lifesaving but it is also essential to strengthen the resilience of communities and systems, to support long term development goals and improve human capital,” Dr. Tchibindat says.

Through this funding, UNICEF will ensure timely and quality treatment of children suffering from severe acute malnutrition integrated within facility and community-based services. UNICEF will also support the delivery of a coordinated and integrated approach to addressing acute malnutrition in children by ensuring a continuum of nutrition care and support for children and mothers. Such continuum of care will place a much-needed emphasis on prevention, especially for children with high risks of becoming acutely malnourished, through the delivery of a package of evidence-based and context-specific nutrition interventions.

In 2019, DFID’s funding support enabled UNICEF to treat more than 157,000 children affected by severe acute malnutrition in the country. Along with other funding partners, it also contributed to the scaling-up of the MUAC-by-mothers approach in Maradi region. Mothers and all women of reproductive age were trained on how to measure the arm circumference of their children (MUAC) with a color-coded bracelet to screen and detect malnutrition and apply appropriate infant and young child feeding practices. A total of 872,000 women had been successfully trained so far. This approach implemented in partnership with ALIMA and the World Food Programme (WFP) is one of the most promising and cost-effective ways for sustainable malnutrition screening in Niger.

 

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