By Joan Bolger, Communications Officer, Concern Worldwide US
13-year-old Zahida tells me she cried through the night when her father came back from an evening of gambling and told her he had found a suitor for her in marriage. “I was used as the payment. He insisted because he had no other money to give,” she explained, clutching her 12-month-old son Sanam at a Concern-run center established to treat malnourished children in Rahuja village, in Sindh, Pakistan’s southern province.
Zahida walked for one hour to get to the center so that Sanam could be treated. Here, staff record weight and arm circumferences to determine the severity of child malnutrition. The rates in Sindh province are 18.8 percent, well above the World Health Organization’s emergency threshold of 15 percent. In the worst affected areas in the province, Concern nutritionists tell me that malnutrition rates are as high as 50 percent.