Project #9971

Sahel, West Africa Food Crisis Emergency

by Merlin USA
Nigel Young, Head of Merlin
Nigel Young, Head of Merlin's Emergency Response

Thank you for offering your support to our work in Chad.  If you are thinking of supporting again, tomorrow (June 13th) would be a great day to do it.  Those lovely people at Global Giving will give an additional 40% on donations.  So a $20 donation from you, is actually a $28 gift to Merlin.

PS.  Please try and get that gift in early, they only have $75,000 to give away.

Nigel Young, Merlin's Head of the Emergency Response Team took a trip to Chad to meet with the emergency response team who have been setting up primary health care and nutrition services.

Read about his week (as told to Third Sector Magazine)

Monday: It's a big week for Merlin's response team. After three months of leg-work in London and Chad, we are about to hand over to the regional management team there. I am flying from Heathrow to N'Djamena, the capital city of Chad, to check all is well before the handover. To make the most of my trip, I am traveling via Amman and Addis Ababa, so I can catch up with the team in Ethiopia.

Tuesday: I fly from Addis Ababa to N'Djamena, where I am pleasantly surprised to find the visa arrangements go like clockwork. I travel to the office to say hello to the team, who have been working in the punishing 40C heat without any air conditioning. Then it is off to a UN meeting on the Consolidated Appeals Process, used by aid organizations to plan and implement their activities. This is all conducted in French, but I pick up roughly half of what is said.

Wednesday: My first day in the field is a visit to Massakory, a three-hour drive from N'Djamena, where I meet the governor of the province. I look over a couple of clinics and the field hospital, where Merlin is setting up a stabilisation centre to treat malnourished children in cooperation with the Ministry of Health. Everything is pretty much on track after the painfully slow process of getting donors' contracts signed.

Thursday: I visit the great and good in N'Djamena to gain an understanding of their concerns and, I hope, to allay a few of them. One difficulty with finding funding for Chad is that the food crisis is a slow burner. There is no one trigger event, so it is hard to get media attention that is unrelated to the jubilee, Euro 2012 or the Olympics.

Friday: The idea is to be on the plane for the 18-hour flight home, but there is a dust storm at the airport and the flight is delayed. Chad is different from many of the countries I have visited. On the surface there is visible wealth, but underneath that gloss the poverty is severe. We have been a bit slower than we would have liked and have lost two or three weeks navigating the bureaucracy, but considering this is our first time here we have done well.

Thank you to everyone who has supported us.


Setting up the Feeding Center, Massaguet
Setting up the Feeding Center, Massaguet

Just received from our colleagues in Chad, an update on Merlin's new Stabilization Unit & Feeding Center in Massaguet.

The Center has now been set up inside Massaguet Hospital - it is a 32 bed ward, with lots of space around the beds so that feeding and medicine trollies can be pushed around the ward with ease, local health staff have space to care for patients and family members can stay by the patients bedsides throughout the day and night if they wish.

This is where children are brought by their families when they are severely malnourished  - referred to the Center by mobile clinic teams (see below).  These children are in dire need of a managed amount of nutritional intake over a number of days - if these children were not able to stay at the Center, many would sadly end up dying.

A milk room and kitchen are being created next to the ward, so that staff can make up and deliver supplementary feeds quickly to patients' beds.  A water tower has also been built, so that there is continual supply of clean, drinkable water. The next priority is to acquire a generator, so the center has electricity 24/7.

Training of local staff

Other Merlin staff have been involved in training local staff to be part of the mobile clinics offering outreach health and feeding programs.  Involving local staff allows Merlin to have a deeper understanding of local cultures and traditions, they also help to secure and build trust quickly and effectively with remote rural communities.

More updates will follow over the next few months.

Thank you for your support

The newly qualified, Merlin local staff
The newly qualified, Merlin local staff
Merlin's trainees
Women waiting at an outreach health post.
Women waiting at an outreach health post.

The Merlin Emergency Response Team sent to Chad to feed and care for vulnerable families living in remote communities, are now fully set up and are caring for over 250,000 people.

In the Sahel region of central Africa more than 15 million people are facing food shortages and over one million children are at risk of severe, acute malnutrition.  The situation continues to get worse and experts forecast there will be a peak in food insecurity and malnutrition rates in July 2012 - this sadly, will result in a huge rise in deaths - the majority of which will be children.  Merlin want to prevent needless deaths, by offering health and nutrition care now.

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.  After reviewing the results, an emergency health and nutrition program response was launched immediately.

Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world. Ranked 183 out of 187 on the Health Development Index, one in
five children die before their fifth birthday and the average life expectancy is only 46 years. Currently, 3.6 million people are threatened with malnutrition.

Merlin are making the most of this small window of opportunity to save lives – to stop or slow the expert's forecast that malnutrition and death rates will soar from July onwards. 

Our activities will care for over 250,000 - This emergency response will focus on providing life-saving health and nutritional care for over 40,000 pregnant women, new mothers and children under five. It will also benefit local populations of around 273,000 people.

Merlin’s Activities

Merlin has implemented an integrated emergency health and nutrition program in the Hadjer Lamis region of western Chad.

This area has huge needs and not has been receiving aid from other INGOs. The critical threshold rate of 15% for Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) has been reached, and families are exposed to communicable disease outbreaks due to their proximity to Lake Chad and dense populations.

Merlin’s activities include:

  • screening children under five, pregnant women and new mothers for malnutrition,
  • establishing 12 outpatient and supplementary feeding sites in existing health centers,
  • outreach services and mobile teams to reach more remote areas,
  • establishing a stabilization center at the District Hospital for those children requiring
    emergency treatment,
  • training and support for local health workers, so they can care for patients within
    their local neighborhoods,
  • health and nutrition education sessions, and
  • ensuring adequate medical and nutrition stocks.

On behalf of all those we care for and everyone at Merlin, thank you for your support.

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Organization Information

Merlin USA

Location: Washington, DC - USA
Merlin USA
Project Leader:
Andrea Miles
Washington, DC United States

Funded Project!

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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