Under a new supplementary feeding initiative, WFP now reaches nearly three times more malnourished children in the desolate Karamoja region in north-eastern Uganda.
Every month in 2008, WFP reached nearly 6,000 children brought to health centres by their parents. With community-based supplementary feeding, which started in 2009, WFP now reaches almost 17,000 children at the health centres and through an outreach arrangement.
“WFP is doing more to address acute malnutrition in Karamoja", says WFP Country Director Stanlake Samkange. "We are working with NGOs to send out village health teams to identify moderately malnourished children. The teams then refer affected children to outposts that we set up under trees and other places. There, the children receive food and medical attention while their mothers get health and nutrition education".
Acute malnutrition is a sudden onset condition caused by shocks such as drought or conflict.
Aim of the programme
“Our aim is to reach more malnourished children and to provide more mothers and health workers with health and nutrition information while reducing the distances that the mothers have to walk to access assistance”, says Samkange.
Too often in Karamoja, clinical malnutrition is detected only when mothers take their children for ailments such as malaria and diarrhoea. Malnutrition is frequently diagnosed too late and the children die. Community-based supplementary feeding is therefore important as it helps detect malnutrition in time.
Impact of the programme
The programme has increased the rate of immunisation with the Government accessing large numbers of children who arrive for treatment. In addition, the programme has enabled the formation of women's groups.
“Working with the village health teams, the women play a big role in supporting each other, following up children under treatment and spreading health and nutrition information,” Samkange said.
WFP’s broader response
Karamoja suffers a combination of hardships including droughts, extreme poverty, poor hygiene and limited livelihood opportunities. As a result, there are chronic food shortages and high rates of malnutrition.
Affected children are targeted by WFP’s community-based supplementary feeding programme which is closely supported by the World Health Organization.