Sahel, West Africa Food Crisis Emergency

 
$2,297
$2,703
Raised
Remaining
Aug 15, 2013

The Sahel Food Crisis

Massaguet: volunteer screens baby for malnutrition
Massaguet: volunteer screens baby for malnutrition

The Sahel Food Crisis

Every indicator in 2011 pointed to a looming food security crisis in the Sahel, with poor rain patterns and failing harvests. The crisis in 2012 was driven by chronic poverty, malnutrition, high food prices, drought and low agricultural production, affecting 18.7 million people across the region and triggering a large humanitarian response. Food insecurity is endemic in Chad, malnutrition is a recurrent public health problem, with rates frequently above the threshold for a critical situation, putting a large number of children at immediate risk of death and long- term disability. Food shortages made the hunger gap start two months earlier, with households stocks exhausted by April instead of July. Coupled with rising food prices, families faced a real challenge resulting in malnutrition rates above emergency thresholds. The 2012 crisis closely followed the severe food and nutrition crisis in 2010, leaving families with limited ability to cope with more frequent and brutal food shocks.

Merlin’s Response

Merlin deployed an emergency response team as early as February 2012 to carry out an assessment in the area of Hadjer Lamis, north of the capital N’Djamena, where no NGO was operating. The assessment found that the health services were not able to cope with the magnitude of the impending food crisis. Merlin decided to mount a response offering nutrition and primary health care and targeting pregnant and lactating women and children. This response supported local health authorities and providers, strengthening existing services rather than duplicating them, in order to make a lasting difference. The program targeted malnourished pregnant and lactating women and children, and provided treatment for high-prevalence illnesses such as malaria, acute respiratory infections, and diarrhea. Our response also improved general awareness of optimal nutrition and health practices, as well as hygiene and sanitation.

Key activities

Improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malnutrition:

- 16 Health facilities supported are providing supplementary feeding program (SFP) and Outpatient Therapeutic Program (OTP) services;

- One stabilization center was set up, assisting 255 children suffering from severe malnutrition with complications;

- In total, 6,565 children under-5 were treated for severe acute malnutrition;

- 10,423 children under 5 and 4,191 pregnant and lactating women were treated for moderate malnutrition;

- 16,704 caretakers received health and nutrition training;

- 210 community health workers were trained on community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM);

- 48 health workers from the Ministry of Health were also trained on CMAM;

Improving access to health:

- 3,568 patients were effectively treated for malaria, acute respiratory infection (ARI) and diarrhea;

- 2,190 children were vaccinated against measles;

- 1 mobile clinic provided nutrition and health services to 6 remote sites;

 Improving the preparedness of communities:

- 1 cholera preparedness and response plan was developed for Massaguet health district by the local health authorities, with Merlin’s support;

- 1 cholera kit was positioned in advance in the district and all Health personnel and community informed on cholera case definition and procedures to reduce contamination;

Feed the Body Feed the Mind

A growing body of research shows that integrating early childhood development activities into emergency nutrition programs is crucial child health. Child growth and brain development depend not only on good nutrition but also on stimulation and caretaker emotional responsiveness. Merlin is piloting the integration of psychosocial and early childhood development services within its stabilization center to improve support for the recovery of malnourished babies, and strengthen their caretakers’ abilities to adequately care for the child.

Challenges faced

Heavy rainfalls have caused large flooding in areas around Lake Chad, close to Merlin’s intervention areas. Merlin mounted an emergency WASH response to mitigate the risks of WASH-related diseases, in a cholera-prone location. In addition, during the rainy season, access to some of the villages was is limited. This led to lower community outreach and potentially untreated cases of malnutrition and other illnesses.

Coordination

Merlin has been successful in establishing solid relationships with both local authorities and communities. Merlin has ensured that its programs were developed in support of existing health authorities so as not to duplicate efforts, and to create unsustainable services. Merlin conducts regular meetings with community leaders and local authorities to discuss issues, and coordinates with all existing humanitarian forums. We continue to be open with authorities and respectful of cultures so as to ensure that we operate effectively.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Merlin monitors its programs systematically to be able to anticipate issues and provide solutions to mitigate them. Supported health centers report on a weekly basis to Merlin and our staff conducts regular monitoring visits to every center.

Impact

Merlin responded quickly to malnutrition and food crisis in Chad and has managed to set up a successful program. Local authorities have expressed their appreciation of the program and of Merlin, and this will be the basis for our expansion of operations in Chad. We have successfully implemented activities that will reduce the vulnerability of communities to malnutrition.  Drawing from this experience, Merlin is designing longer-term programming using its own expertise, to address the underlying causes of malnutrition, such as poor access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation, child and infant feeding and care, and health promotion.

Massaguet Hospital, checking medicine stocks
Massaguet Hospital, checking medicine stocks
May 8, 2013

Improving Responses to Malnutrition in Chad

Massaguet district, Chad
Massaguet district, Chad

The Sahel Food Crisis

Merlin responded quickly to malnutrition and food crisis in Chad and has managed to set up a successful program. Local authorities have expressed their appreciation of the program and of Merlin, and this will be the basis for our expansion of operations in Chad. We have successfully implemented activities that will reduce the vulnerability of communities to malnutrition.  Drawing from this experience, Merlin is designing longer-term programming using its own expertise, to address the underlying causes of malnutrition, such as poor access to clean water, hygiene and sanitation, child and infant feeding and care, and health promotion.

Key activities

Improving the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of malnutrition:

· 16 Health facilities supported are providing supplementary feeding program (SFP) and Outpatient Therapeutic Program (OTP) services.

· One stabilization center was set up, assisting 255 children suffering from severe malnutrition with complications.

· In total, 6,565 children under-5 were treated for severe acute malnutrition next hunger trap.

· malnutrition with complications.

· In total, 6,565 children under-5 were treated for severe acute malnutrition.

· 10,423 children under 5 and 4,191 pregnant and lactating women were treated for moderate malnutrition.

· 16,704 caretakers received health and nutrition training.

· 210 community health workers were trained on community-based management of acute malnutrition (CMAM).

· 48 health workers from the Ministry of Health were also trained on CMA.

 

Improving access to health:

· 3,568 patients were effectively treated for malaria, acute respiratory infection (ARI) and diarrhea.

· 2,190 children were vaccinated against measles.

· 1 mobile clinic provided nutrition and health services to 6 remote sites.

 

Improving the preparedness of communities:

· 1 cholera preparedness and response plan was developed for Massaguet health district by the local health authorities, with Merlin’s support.

· 1 cholera kit was positioned in advance in the district and all Health personnel and community informed on cholera case definition and procedures to reduce contamination.

 

Feed the body – feed the mind:

A growing body of research shows that integrating early childhood development activities into emergency nutrition programs is crucial child health. Child growth and brain development depend not only on good nutrition but also on stimulation and caretaker emotional responsiveness. Merlin is piloting the integration of psychosocial and early childhood development services within its stabilization center to improve support for the recovery of malnourished babies, and strengthen their caretakers’ abilities to adequately care for the child.

 

Coordination

Merlin has been successful in establishing solid relationships with both local authorities and communities.  Merlin has ensured that its programs were developed in support of existing health authorities so as not to duplicate efforts, and to create unsustainable services. Merlin conducts regular meetings with community leaders and local authorities to discuss issues, and coordinates with all existing humanitarian forums. We continue to be open with authorities and respectful of cultures so as to ensure that we operate effectively.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Merlin monitors its programs systematically to be able to anticipate issues and provide solutions to mitigate them. Supported health centers report on a weekly basis to Merlin and our staff conducts regular monitoring visits to every center.

Where We are Now

Although donor response was large for the Sahel, funding available for Chad has decreased to a point where it is threatening all the gains made during the 2012 food crisis response. Despite this, Merlin is developing longer-term, cost-effective programs to target the underlying causes of malnutrition but is aware that with limited donor engagement, gaps will increase during the next hunger gap. It is only with you further support can our successes in Chad continue.

 





 



Zafaya Health Center, Chad
Zafaya Health Center, Chad
Stabilization center in Massaguet, Chad
Stabilization center in Massaguet, Chad
Jan 30, 2013

One Year On

Zafaya Health Center, Massaguet District, Chad
Zafaya Health Center, Massaguet District, Chad

The Growing Crisis Merlin faces

In 2012, lower than anticipated rainfall, poor local harvests, high food prices and continuing conflict across the Sahel region of West Africa resulted in an escalating food crisis across Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Senegal, Chad, northern Nigeria and northern Cameroon.   Millions of people have been left with little food to eat, as they can neither grow enough themselves, nor afford to buy food at the market.

Merlin’s Response Team conducted an assessment of the region in early 2012 to determine the needs of the population and design the most effective response possible, and identified Chad as the country most in need of nutritional and health care support.


Background

Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world.  Currently:

- Chad is ranked 183/187 on the Health Development Index.

- Maternal mortality of 1,200 deaths per 100,000 live births.

- Average life expectancy 46 years.

- Over 3.6 million Chadians were food insecure as of May 2012.

- Only 30% of health centers are estimated to be functioning.

- Malnutrition is the fifth cause of death among children. 

 

Targeting the Vulnerable

Following our assessment, we launched an emergency response, establishing a new program in the Hadjer Lamis region of Chad to react immediately to the growing needs of the population.  This emergency program is aiming to increase access to free primary health care and nutritional services for young children and pregnant and breastfeeding women and to improve the capacity of local authorities and organizations to respond to future disease outbreaks. 

By arriving in country early on in the crisis, Merlin could begin to alleviate the stress on a high-risk malnourished population before the arrival of the peak malnutrition season.  It gave us a crucial window of opportunity to save lives, reduce suffering and reinforce the coping mechanisms of those most affected, before that peak was reached.

Our aim is to focus on the worst affected areas and the most vulnerable groups, particularly children.  We have gone into these areas to find and treat the children who are most at risk – not just from malnutrition, but from killer diseases like malaria. We have done this by setting up health centers, training local volunteers as health workers, and providing them with high-energy foods, medicines and equipment to save lives in their own communities.

 

How You Can Help

Now, with the food situation worsening, it is predicted that 127,000 children aged between six months and five years old will be affected by severe acute malnutrition this year in the Sahel belt of Chad.  The tragic result will be that more children than ever will die if help does not come in time.

Hunger and suffering on this scale seems almost too much to even imagine, let alone prevent.  Yet in Merlin we know that with the right kind of action we can make a big difference.

Please help us to do what we need not just in Chad but the rest of West Africa where we are workin to save lives in the face of the region's poverty, hunger, and disease.

Merlin supported health facility Djarmaya, Chad
Merlin supported health facility Djarmaya, Chad
Oct 9, 2012

West Africa Food Crisis Update

Stabilization center at Massaguet Hospital
Stabilization center at Massaguet Hospital

Merlin’s Emergency Response Team in Chad

In March 2012, Merlin teams carried out assessments in Chad, to determine health needs and design the most effective response possible.  In response to the crisis Merlin now has a full team in Chad consisting of a Country Director, Country Health Director, Logistician and a Program Manager.  

Merlin’s Activities

Recent stats from the field show that nearly 5,000 children under five have been screened for malnutrition, as well as, 1820 pregnant and lactating women.  Out of this combined number 93% have been successfully treated. 

Currently, the management of children with Severe Acute Malnutrition, with complications continues at the Stabilization Center at Massaguet District Hospital.  15 health facilities continue to implement nutrition activities services.  There is daily follow up and on-going training of nurses and other agents by District hospital administration and Merlin medical team at the Stabilization Center. Finally, the Massakori Pediatric Unit continues to provide referral assistance for malnutrition complications when Massaguet district hospital is not able to deliver needed care, as it is the second referral stabilization center for Merlin in the region.

We thank you for your continued support in our fight against hunger.

Merlin supported health facility in Djarmaya
Merlin supported health facility in Djarmaya
Children at Merlin supported outpatient clinic
Children at Merlin supported outpatient clinic

Links:

Jul 10, 2012

How Merlin set up in Sahel, Chad

Consultations at Zafaya Health Centre, Chad
Consultations at Zafaya Health Centre, Chad

We’re set up and delivering health care

 Merlin has been working in Chad for nearly three months now. Why did we send out an Emergency Response Team in the first place?  The facts speak for themselves:

  • 3.6 million have no food security, i.e. parents can not be sure that they have enough food to feed their family.
  • 1.5 million of those people have severe food insecurity, there is a wholly inadequate, availability of food i.e. families do not know if they have food for each day or week.
  • 127,000 children are severely malnourished i.e. very near to death.

Merlin's Emergency Response Team

Our emergency response was led by Lea Gilbert (see photos below).  Once on the ground, Lea and the initial team began the set up process.   Merlin’s logistician Justin Bangue searched out an appropriate base, to be used as an office and place to sleep, eat and have a little down time.  He and Lea were also in charge of liaising with country representatives of government donors about ongoing funding and talking to various Chad government departments to make sure all the paper work was in order, including recruitment procedures and non-profit certifications.

Justin also coordinated the delivery of procured supplies and medicines, to make sure everything was in place for our health and mobile teams, to make sure they could start offering services as soon as possible.

The health & nutrition teams come under the supervision of Angela Muruiki, Merlin’s Health Manager in Chad.  She has been leading training sessions with local health staff and outreach teams in basic health and nutrition care.  Angela ensures that every health worker has the required skills to offer quality health care to everyone that needs it, including those living in more rural and remote communities.   Since the outreach services were available, and now word has spread, the number of families visiting the outreach clinics has risen each week, from double to triple figures.

Angela’s team has also set up a therapeutic Feeding Center in Massaguet Hospital, one of only 3 hospitals in Hadjer Lamis province, in the central, west of Chad. On June 13th alone, the Feeding Center received more than 30 new, severely malnourished children into the feeding program, and a neighboring health clinic registered 50 more. 

Our teams will be there to help 100’s, maybe 1000’s more children, mothers, the elderly, in fact anyone that needs our care, over the coming months. 

Also...Do you think Merlin is doing a good job?

If you love our work, then tell the world! You have an exciting opportunity to help Merlin (Medical Emergency Relief International) make even more of a difference. GreatNonprofits - a site like Amazon Book Reviews or TripAdvisor - is a website where people can share their stories about nonprofits that they really believe in.

Will you help us raise awareness and support for our life saving work, by posting a review of about Merlin?All reviews will be visible to potential donors. It's easy and only takes a few minutes. Please go to:http://greatnonprofits.org/organizations/reviews/medical-emergency-relief-international-usa-inc and log your comment.

With your help, we can gain visibility and ultimately funds for our health care work around the world.

Merlin can respond to situations such as the food crisis in Sahel, because of you.  Thank you.

Lea Gilbert, Head of Chad Emergency Response Team
Lea Gilbert, Head of Chad Emergency Response Team
Justin, Merlin
Justin, Merlin's logistics man in Chad
Angela leads our health teams
Angela leads our health teams

Links:

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Donation Options

Funded

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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Organization

Merlin USA

Washington, DC, United States
http://www.merlinusa.org

Project Leader

Andrea Miles

Washington, DC United States

Where is this project located?

Chad   Hunger
Map of Sahel, West Africa Food Crisis Emergency