Save the Children is in the process of providing nutritional assistance to an estimated 15,000 children under five years old in the Maradi and Zinder regions which are facing the most acute food shortages following the lethal combination of poor rainfall in 2005 and a locust infestation.
We will be focussing on providing children at risk of acute malnutrition with the treatment they urgently need. We are targeting our food and health activities to reach the malnourished and their families, including operating a Feeding Centre from where we will provide "Plumpy Nut" (a peanut-based paste) to children at risk. The high protein food supplement is part of an intensive, controlled feeding programme for moderate and severely malnourished children and their families.
In both Zinder and Maradi, treatment of moderately malnourished children will take place through a supplementary feeding programme in which rations are given on a weekly basis.
In addition we are working to ensure the Ministry of Health has the essential medical supplies they need in the region in order to address the health needs children, particularly immunisation from measles and tetanus.
Toby Porter, Director of Emergencies, comments, "Our team in Niger has been shocked by the levels of malnutrition in the region. Without urgent assistance a quarter of the country's 12 million people will go hungry, and as always children are especially vulnerable. Our emergency team are working hard to ensure that the most vulnerable children are given the best chance of survival."
Niger is one of the world's least developed countries in the world. It is ranked 176th out of 177 countries in the UN's Human Development Index. 63% of the 12 million population live below the poverty line. In the Maradi and Zinder regions around 350 children out of every 100 fail to live until their fifth birthday.
Members of our emergency response team in Maradi are available for interview over the phone, and our Director of Emergencies, Toby Porter is available in London. Please contact Laura Conrad to make arrangements on +44 (0)20 7012 6847.