Posts Tagged malnutrition

Off the Grid: A Dispatch from Burundi

Posted on Tuesday, August 21st, 2012 at 10:17 am

By Jennifer Weiss, Health Advisor, Concern Worldwide US

I started my work in Burundi around a year ago. Before I visited the country, I remember my colleague describing Burundi to me. “It’s off the grid,” she said.

Jennifer Weiss forgoes the van and continues her journey cross the rickety bridge on foot.

The comment struck me as odd. I assured her that I had lived in Africa before and was more than prepared for the work that lay ahead.  I couldn’t possibly understand what she meant by “off the grid.”

I quickly learned. Burundi, despite its geographic proximity to Tanzania, Kenya, and Rwanda, countries with growing economies and booming tourism industries, is heartbreakingly poor. In fact, Burundi is one of the world’s five poorest countries. I knew this statistic before departure. However, it wasn’t until I arrived in Burundi’s capital city of Bujumbura that I completely understood my colleague’s description. While in other capitals there are new businesses and construction, in Bujumbura there are none to be seen. When I asked a friend of mine who had been in Burundi in the ‘80s to explain how the capital had changed since then, she frankly responded: “It hasn’t.”

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Scavenging Anthills to Survive: A Dispatch from the Sahel Hunger Crisis

Posted on Thursday, July 5th, 2012 at 10:57 am

By Carol Morgan, Regional Director, Central Africa Region, Concern Worldwide

Hafiza Moussa is three years old and suffering from malaria. He is receiving treatment from a Concern-supported ward (CRENI) at the regional hospital.

I recently returned from the Sahel region of Africa, where a major humanitarian crisis is now unfolding, affecting an estimated 18.7 million people. In the Tahoua region of Niger, where Concern is responding, I saw children who, completely listless from the effects of malnutrition, could not hold down therapeutic milk in overcrowded feeding centers.

The United Nations now estimates that upwards of one million children are at extreme risk of severe acute malnutrition across this semi-arid belt of land along the Sahara desert. Even in ‘non-crisis’ years, 645,000 children die in the Sahel—35 percent of which are linked to malnutrition. This grim reality will never change unless we address the root causes of cyclical hunger.

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Deepening Food Insecurity Casts Shadow over South Sudan’s First Birthday

Posted on Monday, June 11th, 2012 at 8:29 am

By Paul O’Brien, Overseas Director, Concern Worldwide

In this region, malnutrition rates rise and fall along with the levels of food available pre- and post-harvest.

On July 9th, the Republic of South Sudan will celebrate its first Independence Day since its secession from the Republic of Sudan in 2011. I recently travelled, first to Juba, the capital, and then to the Aweil West and Aweil North areas of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state—a region bordering the Republic of Sudan where a staggering 800,000 people live below the poverty line.

In this region, malnutrition rates rise and fall along with the levels of food available pre- and post-harvest. In Aweil West, for instance, fluctuations in child malnutrition rates from harvest to the ‘lean season’—the time preceding the harvest when food supplies are at their lowest– doubled from 12 percent to 26 percent in November 2011. Given that a rate of 15 percent is considered to be at emergency-level, it is clear that communities in South Sudan are constantly confronting food insecurity, even in times of what they consider to be ‘plenty.’

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A New Commitment to Food Security from G8, but Empty Promises Remain

Posted on Friday, May 25th, 2012 at 7:58 am

By Tom Arnold, CEO, Concern Worldwide

Tom Arnold with Beverly Oda of the Canadian International Development Agency and Etharin Cousin of the UN World Food Programme

I have just returned from a whirlwind visit to Washington, DC and Chicago, where I participated in a number of events around the G8 and NATO Summits focused on food and nutrition security.  Among so many world leaders and high-level representatives from civil society and academia, I felt a sense of critical mass beginning to form in the fight to end global hunger.

It’s a feeling I’ve had before – perhaps not this strong – only to be disappointed when promises went unfulfilled.  We must keep calling our leaders to persevere, especially those in the G8, to ensure that does not happen this time.

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As Food Crisis Looms in Niger, Lives Hang in the Balance

Posted on Thursday, March 15th, 2012 at 3:55 pm

By Leila Bourahla, Niger Country Director, Concern Worldwide

For the third time in less than a decade, the Sahel region of West Africa could once again face a food crisis. The most urgent question now is not whether a response is needed, but when it will happen and at what scale.  But perhaps the most important question is: what can we do to reduce the likelihood that we will be having the same conversation, facing the same life-or-death consequences, next year, or the year after?

The landscape in rural Niger. Photo by Tim Peek for Concern Worldwide, 2006.

We saw the deadly costs of delayed intervention last year in the Horn of Africa, where widespread hunger in Ethiopia and Kenya and famine in Somalia led to the deaths of as many as 100,000 people, according to figures collected by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DfID).  While the early warning signs from East Africa were far more severe than that from West Africa (in Niger, food production was 10-15 percent below average in 2011, but was an estimated75 percent below average in Somalia.), we should take them no less seriously, particularly when it comes to the value of early and preventative action. Read the rest of this entry »

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In the wake of the East Africa crisis, will help arrive in time for the Sahel?

Posted on Monday, February 27th, 2012 at 4:11 pm

Paul O’Brien, Overseas Director, Concern Worldwide

Last week, United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Assistant Administrator Nancy Lindborg announced a contribution of $33 million to support food security, nutrition and short-term cash assistance efforts across the West African region of the Sahel, bringing USAID’s total humanitarian assistance to the region to more than $270 million in fiscal years 2011 and 2012.  The announcement caused barely a ripple in the US media, and many who heard the news may have even asked ‘What crisis?’ or ‘What’s the Sahel?’  As aid organizations, it is our responsibility to issue and amplify calls to action to respond in the Sahel, and to broadcast the important message that coordinated action now will save lives and prevent costly interventions later – and we have the evidence.

Millet is the staple crop that keeps most people alive in Niger, but this year, drought and poor harvests threaten to leave 13 million people in need of emergency food assistance by April. Photo: Tim Peek for Concern Worldwide US, Tahoua town, Niger

Right now, a series of factors—including volatile spikes in food prices, failed harvests and cyclical drought—have triggered widespread food shortages across the Sahel, according to the USAID Famine Early Warning System Network. Levels of malnutrition among children under five have already reached the internationally recognized emergency threshold of 15 percent in parts of many affected countries, which include Niger, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Mauritania. Read the rest of this entry »

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