Action Against Hunger, a non-governmental, non-religious, non-profit relief organization that has been working in Mali since 1996, is launching urgently needed emergency nutritional programs. These will treat cases of severe malnutrition in children younger than five years of age, distribute supplementary food for families, and rehabilitate and protect water sources. Action Against Hunger's programs will also create sanitation and water distribution programs for animals. Herds of livestock, the principal means of subsistence for families, are dying due to a lack of grazing land and water.
Action Against Hunger predicts a need for 35 distribution points of supplementary nutrition to deal with severe malnutrition in about 5,000 children younger than five years old in the north of Mali. The organization will also support sanitation centers in which specific rooms will be established for children who are suffering from severe malnutrition.
According to Amador Gómez, Technical Director of Action Against Hunger-Spain, the situation is critical: "The nutritional state of the population is worrisome. We have confirmed that more than one in three children younger than five years old suffers from severe malnutrition. At this time when the most vulnerable families have limited access to grazing land for their animals, to food and to water, it is imperative that the international community gets involved as soon as possible to support the people in this country and to prevent the situation from getting worse."
Why is it an Emergency Situation?
The low amount and poor distribution of rain in the 2004 season in Mali and also in regions of Burkina Faso and Niger* has led to poor agricultural production, a scarcity of grazing land for cattle, and only a small annual growth of the Niger River. The resource situation is even worse this year due to a desert locust plague that hit the region in the end of 2004.
*Action against Hunger is currently evaluating the situation in Niger in the event that an additional emergency operation is necessary there.