Humanitarian Health Action

Niger: food insecurity at the forefront again

Monthly Highlights - October 2010

Malnourished child in a therapeutic feeding centre
WHO/Marko Kokic
Malnourished child in a therapeutic feeding centre

Like in 2005, food insecurity is threatening Niger again with 7.1 million people (47.7% of the population) affected, of which 3.3 million are severely affected. The regions most distressed by the scarcity of food are Maradi (29.3%), Tahoua (24.5%), Tillabéri (24%), Diffa (15.6%), Zinder (14.9%), Dosso (12.8%) and the periphery of Niamey (6.5%). Between January and September 2010, the weekly nutritional surveillance system has reported 375 454 cases of global acute malnutrition including 181 300 cases of moderate acute malnutrition and 194 154 cases of severe acute malnutrition. The regions of Maradi accounted for 42% of all cases and Zinder for 29%. These figures are higher compared to the same period in 2009 when only 168 138 cases of global acute malnutrition were reported.

Between 15 and 20% of children under-five affected by severe acute malnutrition are likely to suffer medical complications and require intensive health care, including psychosocial stimulation support.

Among the main medical complications, there are dehydration, septic shock, heart failure, hypoglycaemia, hypothermia, severe anaemia and various infections. The link between infections and malnutrition is well documented. Without medical care appropriate for these complications, most of these children are likely to die.

Using a US$ 300 000 grant from the CERF for rapid response, WHO is:

  • supporting partners to train 120 health workers on the management of severe acute malnutrition with medical complications,
  • supporting on-site supervision on management of severe under-nutrition,
  • monitoring activities in order to decrease the crude mortality rate among children under five and surveillance system.

New funds are needed to keep the staff in the field and maintain the support provided to the partners.

For more information on WHO’s activities in Niger