UN humanitarian chief says children are the face of Mali’s food and nutrition crisis

from UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Published on 29 Aug 2012

(Bamako/Geneva/New York, 29 August 2012): Children are the face of the food and nutrition crisis in Mali and throughout the Sahel said UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Valerie Amos after visiting the Gabriel Touré Nutritrion Center in Bamako, which has treated more than 1,000 children for moderate and severe acute malnutrition since the start of the year.

“Children's lives are being blighted by a nutritional crisis which we have the knowledge and capacity to address, but we lack the funds to do everything that is needed,” said Ms. Amos.

Almost 150,000 children across Mali have been treated for acute malnutrition in facilities like Gabriel Touré this year. The United Nations appealed for US$213 million for the humanitarian response in Mali but has so far received only 46 per cent of the total requirement. Water, hygiene and sanitation as well as education and health sectors are severely underfunded.

“We are saving lives here, but we must do more,” said Ms. Amos. “It only costs around $100 to prevent a child from dying from severe acute malnutrition. But we also have to tackle the root causes of this crisis so that mothers in Mali, and the wider Sahel region, can have confidence in the future for themselves and their children.”

Even in good years in the Sahel with plentiful rainfall, a quarter of a million children die of malnutrition because of chronic poverty, poor health and lack of access to health facilities, and the absence of water and sanitation in most communities.

Ms. Amos is in Mali to assess the response to the severe food and nutrition crisis affecting 4.6 million people in Mali, including 175,000 children at risk from severe acute malnutrition. Across the Sahel region 1.1 million children are at risk of severe acute malnutrition.

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