Since the Chad emergency programme began in February, the availability of food in the region has decreased even further, and the situation looks like it will become worse in the coming months. This is due to the combination of poor harvests, and lack of pastures for animals to feed on. Low availability of produce is thus increasing food prices in the markets, and as livestock become ill due to lack of food, the price of these animals is decreasing also, leaving many families unable to sell or buy enough food to feed themselves.
In June 2010, the results of an assessment of the situation in Chad, which involved the participation of more than 4,000 households in 212 villages, was released by the United Nations (UNHCR). This provides a snapshot of the situation facing vulnerable households across the country. It shows that 1.6 million people are facing many physical and financial barriers in getting food to eat. Even normally self-sufficient families are desperate, with 78% of families now buying their food at the market, even though almost 84% normally grow their own food, and 46% raise animals. In particular, nearly 17% of children under 5 are suffering from Acute Malnutrition, with 4.4% severely malnourished. This is significantly higher than the 15 percent level classified as a ‘critical’ emergency by the World Health Organization (WHO). However, the underlying, or chronic, levels of malnutrition affecting children are equally shocking, at over 39%. The figures for this survey were collected in the summer of 2009, so they are very likely to be even worse now in 2010. The situation remains desperate and unlikely to improve until after the rainy season in September when pastures re-grow, and crops are harvested.
What We are Doing
In response, ACF have now established their operations team in the region, with nutrition and care practices teams recruited and trained, emergency stocks of ‘Plumpy Nut’, other therapeutic foods, as well as essential medicines, all ready and in place. Malnutrition prevention activities are also in place, with community drama groups holding street theatre events to educate and inform local communities on a variety of topics, such as breastfeeding, using water safely for sanitation and hygiene, washing hands to reduce diseases, and on basic nutrition for health. ACF are also working closely with the Ministry of Public Health in Chad, to ensure that all emergency activities are coordinated efficiently. Since March, we began treating children with Acute Malnutrition from the ACF field office in Moussoro, as well as the local hospital there. There are also another 15 Outpatient Treatment Programmes (OTPs) being supported at local government health centres, where ‘Plumpy Nut’ is also being distributed. Additionally, emergency supplies of this life-saving ‘ready to use therapeutic food’ or 'RUTF' are also on standby in N’Djamena, ensuring that the increasing numbers of children suffering from Acute Malnutrition will be provided treatment without interruption as the situation continues to deteriorate further in the region.
The photographs accompanying this report were taken during a field visit in May 2010, and shows mothers, and care-givers, with their children receiving care and treatment at the Outpatient Treatment Programme (OTP) centre in Toula, in western Chad.
Action Against Hunger would like to thank everyone who has donated so far. Your support has been critical. However, we still need your help to reach our target of £34,790. If you can, we kindly ask that you please forward this project link to all your families and friends for their support also, as every single donation made for this project will help towards saving the lives of children suffering from malnutrition in Chad.
Action Against Hunger - July 2010