Sahel 2012: Cluster strategic indicators - Nutrition, January - April 2012

Nearly 1.1 million children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2012, and almost 3 million children will suffer from moderate acute malnutrition, exacerbated by and complicating needs in health, water and sanitation, protection and threatening rights to education. To date, there are 249,785 children admitted in SAM treatment facilities across the Sahel (23% of annual target). Chronic food insecurity and cyclical food crises such as today’s situation in the Sahel are then further compounded by poor infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices at home, poor health status and insufficient access to health services, inadequate preventive interventions against malnutrition, and poor access to water and sanitation. Poor rainfall has exacerbated food insecurity and loss of livestock, coupled with increasing food prices especially of cereals, impacting the purchasing power of households and increasing the strain on livelihoods, jeopardizing children’s lives.

While the overall coverage may seem low, quite substantial nutrition scale-up operations are underway in Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Cameroun which are starting from a lower baseline than Niger, Chad and Nigeria which have been undergoing up scale-up of nutrition interventions since 2010. The number of health centres offering SAM treatment is currently over 5300 to date, up from 3100 in 2011. In Mali, the number of children admitted for SAM treatment in the first four months (18,407) for instance, already exceeds the number of children that were treated in 2011 (which was 15,000). With the onset of the lean season, an uptake in SAM admissions is expected. In Burkina, UNICEF is supporting the government to accelerate the national nutrition scale-up plan. In Senegal access barriers such as user fees at health facilities as well local transport expenses affect the ability of families with malnourished children, already struggling with limited household income, to access treatment accounting for low coverage to date. UNICEF is exploring ways to address this issue with partners.

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