Drought in the Horn of Africa, coupled with conflict in Somalia, has affected over 13 million people. WFP is implementing food operations in five countries in the region (Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya and Uganda). This page brings together a range of information on the hunger crisis in the Horn and WFP's emergency response.
Right now in the Sahel, the lives of one million children hang in the balance. Crops have failed in eight drought-hit countries, leaving families with almost nothing to eat and at risk from malnutrition. The people of the Sahel are resilient, but they have a limit, and it has been reached. Your support could make the difference.
Child undernutrition, tropical enteropathy, toilets, and handwashing The Lancet, Volume 374, Issue 9694, Pages 1032 - 1035, 19 September 2009 doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(09)60950-8 Research evidence points to a more insidious cause of stunting in children due to chronic ingestion of feacal matter during the critical growth years between 0-2 years of age. The conventional justification for sanitation programmes has usually been based upon diarrhoeal disease reduction. This new research suggests that rather than diarrhoea episodes being responsible for growth stunting it seems that a phenomenon known as Tropical Enteropathy is a more likely candidate. Essentially this is caused by chronic fecal matter ingestion and associated damage to the small intestines which are responsible for severe nutrient uptake inhibition - leading to stunting.
Nutrition education improves growth in rural China An article in the April 2010 issue of Public Health Nutrition presents findings from a randomized controlled trail of an education intervention designed to improve complementary feeding practices in China. Children in villages that received the intervention gained significantly more weight and length and experienced faster growth velocity compared to a control group. These results offer further evidence that educational messages alone can improve linear growth in food-secure low-income groups. Read more.
Local micronutrient fortification of school meals improves nutrition The June 2010 issue of The Journal of Nutrition revealed results from a trial in India that tested the nutritional impact of giving school meals fortified with micronutrients onsite. The treatment group experienced significant improvements in total body iron, serum retinol, and folate compared to the control group. The authors concluded that point-of-use fortification of school meals using existing infrastructure is a cost-effective, locally acceptable, and sustainable way to implement micronutrient fortification programs. Read more.
Can low-phytate maize or zinc supplements enhance growth? An article published in the May 2010 issue of The Journal of Nutrition presents the results of a trial that measured the effect of giving low-phytate maize, zinc supplements, or both on linear growth velocity among Guatemalan infants aged 6 to 12 months. Low-phytate maize did not show any effect, but the zinc supplements increased serum zinc concentration. Even so, the authors found no impact on child growth, leaving the cause of early stunting in Guatemala still unexplained. Read more.
Why does exclusive breastfeeding reduce HIV transmision from mother to child? An article in the March 2010 issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases explores the hypothesis that lower levels of mastitis among women who exclusively breastfeed is the mechanism by which exclusive breastfeeding protects against mother-to-child transmission of HIV ((MTCT). Results showed no association between mixed feeding and mastitis. Mastitis was predictive of MTCT, but only when maternal plasma HIV load was high. Read more.
Nigeria: Responding to the 2009 World Health Organization recommendations In a Q&A, the t's Wasiu "Prince" Afolabi shares the latest on his country's interpretation of the November 2009 World Health Organization recommendations on infant feeding and HIV.
After much debate and examination, national nutrition and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV stakeholders reached a consensus to adopt the new guidelines. The decision, he says, is a major step toward increasing HIV-free survival of children. Prince will present this experience at the XVIII International AIDS Conference. Read the Q&A with Prince.
Zambia: Provincial training teams increase nutrition support for HIV-positive moms Offering better nutrition support to keep HIV-exposed children healthy in Zambia's Eastern Province was a problem that Sydney Kambobe, a provincial nutrition specialist, had grappled with for several years. In Zambia, poor feeding practices put children of HIV-positive mothers at high risk of HIV transmission. With the support of the IYCN Project, Sydney is now part of a local team that is training health workers to support HIV-positive moms to practice safer feeding. Learn more.
Update from the field: Côte d'Ivoire Venance Kouakou, IYCN technical advisor in Côte d'Ivoire, joined US President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and government officials on May 18 for a ceremony marking the launch of efforts to support social centers in improving nutrition for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC).
At the event, IYCN presented directors of 21 social centers from across the country with anthropometric tools to identify malnourished OVC and equipment for cooking demonstrations.
Investing in nutrition is key to feeding the future In May, the US Government launched the Feed the Future Guide, describing its strategy to address global hunger and food security. The strategy emphasizes that investments in addressing the root causes of undernutrition can improve the lives of mothers and their children. The guide highlights the role IYCN is playing in preventing malnutrition in Haiti. View the guide.
Educating US policymakers on maternal and child health IYCN's Altrena Mukuria joined policymakers, congressional staff, and global health colleagues to discuss the role of health systems in improving maternal and child health during a May 25 Capitol Hill briefing in Washington, DC. Dr. Mukuria highlighted the vital work that IYCN does to improve health systems and increase the capacity of health workers, as well as how health systems are integral to improving the health of women and children throughout the world. Learn more.
UNICEF: Fighting malnutrition in Benin 14 April 2010
ALIBORI DEPARTMENT, Benin More than one in three Beninese children under the age of five show signs of chronic malnutrition. In the drier, northernmost part of the country, most families harvest crops for both income and their own consumption, feeding their children whatever is available from this yield.
The main cause of malnutrition is ignorance, said Linata Gbadamassi, a nurse working in the Gomparou Health Clinic in Benins northern Alibori Department.There is not a shortage of food but, rather, mothers dont use the right ingredients, she added. They tend to always give the child plain porridge made of just maize or millet instead of enriching it with soya or other nutritious foods.
Reaching parents in Benin a country of about 9 million people and some 50 languages has proven to be a challenge. To connect with parents, UNICEF is working with Benins Ministry of Health on an innovative, community-based programme to prevent child illnesses related to malnutrition.
UNICEF: Improving chances for malnourished children in Côte d'Ivoire 1 April 2010
ABIDJAN, Côte dIvoire Since her ninth child was born, Silué Kewa Tchewas breasts have not produced a drop of milk. As a result, her six-week-old, Fatoumata, is underweight.
But the baby recently gained nearly 200 grams in just a few days when she was brought to a UNICEF supported Red Cross therapeutic nutritional centre.
When the child is malnourished, its growth is slowed down. The parents dont like this and blame evil spirits, said Red Cross nutritional centre manager Salimata Coulibaly. Some abandon their child. Our first task is to explain why the child is sick, the causes, and how they can get better.
In this rural area, cotton was once the main crop. The economic crisis combined with a political crisis in Côte dIvoire has weakened many families. Farmers are forced to sell all their vegetables to make ends meet, without keeping part of their crop for their own consumption.
In the villages, the incidence of malnutrition is very high. UNICEF works with the public authorities and NGOs to reach out to these communities and improve their understanding of nutrition issues. Community health workers conduct local follow-up outreach visits.
UNICEF: Food shortages in Chad lead to malnutrition in children 24 March 2010
MAO, Chad Malnutrition rates are increasing in western Chad's Kanem Region, as the region is gripped by severe food shortages due to a lack of rain. The situation is exacerbated by local communities' very limited access to basic health care and safe drinking water.
"Without the therapeutic feeding centre here, there would be a lot more deaths and an even bigger catastrophe," says Chief District Medical Officer Dr. Mekonyo Kolmain Gedeon. "We can see the change in health with children admitted. After only a few weeks ... they are able to go home.
"These feeding centres are a critical lifeline for children living in this region. We need more of these centres in order to save more lives," he adds.
In 2009, around 8,000 children were treated at 32 feeding centres in the Kanem region. The centres were established by the Chadian Ministry of Health and receive support from UNICEF to provide therapeutic food and medical treatment.
"At the moment, we have 2,800 children benefitting from the programme," says UNICEF Representative in Chad Marzio Babille. "While severe acute malnutrition is an emergency, a rapid response with appropriate medical care and technology can save lives."
Evidence supports coupling prevention with treatment of acute malnutrition February 2010 Following the Niger food crisis of 2004-2005, programs for community-based treatment of acute malnutrition found that the prevalence of acute malnutrition remained high. In an anthropological study published in the January 2009 issue of Disasters, researchers investigated social factors that may predispose children to acute malnutrition and contribute to its high prevalence. The authors found several harmful infant and young child feeding practices. They recommended that treatment-based nutrition programs should include integrated, long-term approaches to improve infant and young child feeding. Read more.
Can water safety interventions reduce diarrhea during weaning? February 2010 In a study published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases in September 2009, investigators implemented a set of household water safety interventions to determine whether preventing exposure to waterborne pathogens would reduce diarrhea during weaning among HIV-exposed infants. During the weaning period, the frequency of diarrhea was the same in both the intervention and non-intervention groups. The authors concluded that diarrhea during the weaning period may be attributable to factors other than waterborne pathogens. Read more.
Continued breastfeeding lowers the risk of serious gastroenteritis for HIV-exposed kids February 2010 The January 2010 issue of the Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes features several articles on gastroenteritis and early cessation of breastfeeding. One study analyzed the risk of serious gastroenteritis in HIV-exposed infants who participated in two different trials in the same hospital in Uganda during different time periods. In one trial, mothers stopped breastfeeding their babies before 6 months of age, while mothers in the other trial stopped after 6 months. Stopping before 6 months of age led to higher rates of serious gastroenteritis through 18 months, and higher cumulative mortality. Read more.
Country spotlight: Kenya
Take a photo tour of our community-based activities February 2010
View our new photo slideshow featuring dedicated community volunteers who help HIV-positive mothers boost nutrition for their children in Kenya. Since April 2009, IYCN has collaborated with the Society for Women and AIDS in Kenya and PATH to train more than 400 volunteer counselors on improving infant feeding practices in Western Province. See how the volunteers are spreading the infant feeding message to mothers and families through home visits, support groups, and discussions at health centers. View the slideshow.
IYCN project news
Haiti update February 2010 Our thoughts are with the victims and families affected by the Haiti earthquake. Over the past few weeks, we have been very concerned about the safety and well-being of our IYCN team in Haiti. We are relieved to report that we have been in contact with all three of our staff members, who are employed by IYCN's partner CARE: Rose Mireille Exume, Jennifer LaTortue, and Natacha Pierre-Pierre. Our sympathies are with them as they cope with losses of family members and homes. IYCN Country Coordinator, Rose Mireille Exume, is helping coordinate emergency nutrition activities as a member of the Nutrition Cluster team led by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Check the IYCN website for future updates on the situation.
Please view and share the following important statements on appropriate infant and young child feeding during the Haiti emergency. February 2010
Introducing new programs in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Malawi February 2010 IYCN will expand its work to three new countries to reach mothers and children with nutrition interventions.
In Bangladesh, IYCN is working with CARE to provide families with micronutrient powders to mix with their children's food to combat anemia and motivate beneficial feeding practices. Learn more.
In Ethiopia, the team is working with partners to provide training and support for improving nutrition practices for HIV-positive mothers and HIV-exposed children. Learn more.
In Malawi, the project will support the Office of the President and Cabinet to build capacity for community-based nutrition and HIV services. Learn more.
Making a difference in Lesotho February 2010
The project will wrap up activities in Lesotho this month. For the past two years, IYCN supported the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to improve infant feeding practices by enhancing national policies, training more than 1,100 community-based workers to counsel mothers, improving linkages between health facilities and communities, and more. Program highlights include the recent launch of the National Infant and Young Child Feeding Training Curriculum for health workers.
Read the stories of Mamorena and Tsepo to learn about the impact of IYCN's efforts in Lesotho.
View a new video featuring Lesotho's launch of demonstration gardens to improve complementary feeding, during World Breastfeeding Week in August 2009.
A ward committee meets in Nigel, South Africa to discuss integrating nutrition interventions into development programs.
Summaries of research on exclusive breastfeeding, formula feeding, and continued breastfeeding beyond six months will help nutrition and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV program implementers and providers sort through the risks and benefits of promoting different feeding options to HIV-positive mothers. Look for the new materials soon.
Update from the field:
South Africa Training community volunteers February 2010 In October 2009, consultant Benny Sikhakhane helped IYCN start up a pilot project to integrate nutrition interventions into economic and educational development programs in South Africa's Nigel District. Through a unique partnership with J&J Development Projects Trust, a private investment and management company, IYCN is introducing nutrition activities for mothers and children into community development plans. Read Benny's message to learn about his experiences training community volunteers on infant feeding, reaching new mothers in the Nigel community, and educating community leaders on nutrition.
India's children bearing brunt of costly food 19 May 2008 - Delhi: More than 1.5 m children in India are at risk of becoming malnourished because of rising global food prices, the UN children's charity, UNICEF, says. It warns that food inflation could be devastating for vulnerable women and children right across South Asia. The region already has the largest number of malnourished children in the world and levels could get even worse. Even before the current crisis almost half of all Indian children showed signs of stunted growth, UNICEF says.
A suffering Bharat vs shining India 25 April 2008 - It seems that the policies made in Parliament have gone just one way, away from the poor. The latest reminder is a survey by the National Sample Survey Organisation, which is asking a question - What can you do with just Rs 12 a day? Twenty per cent people in rural India have only Rs 12 a day, of which each person spends just Rs 7 on food. In Orissa and Chhattisgarh, 44% people live this life. Ever wondered why people migrate from villages to cities? The survey says life is a shade better in urban India where 22% people spend Rs 19 daily. In urban Bihar, 56% live on this amount.
Most of world's stunted children live in India, says Lancet 24 April 2008 - A recent The Lancet study shows that among the 20 countries where four-fifths of all undernourished children live, India is home to the largest number. The reputed international journal says these 20 countries lack the political will to put nutrition on their list of priorities – and keep it there. The study, however, commends the work being done in southern Indian states of Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The Lancet Series on Maternal and Child Undernutrition – a global, scientific report by a team of public health scientists – underlines the importance of the "golden interval of intervention" that ranges from pregnancy to two years of age. After the age of two, under-nutrition would have caused irreversible damage to the child's development. "India, with a large population, is also home to the most stunted children. There are 61 million stunted children in India, which is over half (51%) of all Indian children under the age of five years, and 34% of all stunted children worldwide," says the study.
Hunger has an even bigger impact on children's health than was thought 24 Jan 2008 - BADAAM lives in the Indian province of Rajasthan. Tetanus killed one of her children in infancy; another is weak from diarrhoea, caused probably by the custom of keeping mother and baby isolated for a month after birth. Yet she is one of the lucky ones: a charity, Save the Children, has been keeping her family alive with food and nutritional advice. UNICEF, the United Nations' children's agency, said this week that fewer than 10m children died before their fifth birthday in 2006–probably the lowest rate ever, and certainly the smallest number since records began in 1960, when twice as many under-fives died, out of a world population half today's level.
New Lancet Series Urges Action on Maternal and Child Undernutrition January 17, 2008 - The Lancet launched a new series on Maternal and Child Undernutrition, which draws in part on nutrition and health data from Demographic and Health Surveys and from DHS research. The series provides new evidence about the widespread impact of poor nutrition on many low- and middle-income countries. The authors concluded that more than a third of child deaths and 10 percent of the global disease burden are due to child and maternal undernutrition. Further, more than 3.5 million mothers and children under five die each year as a result of undernutrition. Most undernourished children live in just 20 countries across four regions - Africa, Asia, western Pacific, and the middle East.
Malnutrition rampant, may trigger crisis 2 April 2007 - New Delhi (WFS) - India may well be 'shining' to the world at large but when it comes to its children's health the picture is far from glossy. The recently released National Family Health Survey (NFHS-3), the third pan-India survey conducted since 1992 (covering 200,000 people from 15-54 years), highlights some sobering facts on this front.
"India should be worried." Experts reiterate that child malnutrition is not only responsible for 22 per cent of India's disease burden - and for 50 per cent of the 2.3 million child deaths in India -- but is also a serious economic hazard. Neeta Lal reports.