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Cablegate: Darfur - Hunger Season Brings Chronic but Stable Nutrition

VZCZCXRO6101
PP RUEHGI RUEHMA RUEHROV
DE RUEHKH #1018/01 1771434
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 261434Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY KHARTOUM
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7735
INFO RUCNFUR/DARFUR COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 001018

SIPDIS

AIDAC
SIPDIS

STATE FOR AF/SPG, PRM, AND ALSO PASS USAID/W
USAID FOR DCHA SUDAN TEAM, AFR/SP
NAIROBI FOR USAID/DCHA/OFDA, USAID/REDSO, AND FAS
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
NAIROBI FOR SFO
NSC FOR PMARCHAM, MMAGAN, AND TSHORTLEY
ADDIS ABABA FOR USAU
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PREF PGOV PHUM SOCI UN SU
SUBJECT: DARFUR - HUNGER SEASON BRINGS CHRONIC BUT STABLE NUTRITION
EMERGENCY


KHARTOUM 00001018 001.2 OF 002


-------
SUMMARY
-------

(U) The overall nutrition situation across Darfur remains relatively
stable in the approach to the rainy season, with most indicators in
line with seasonal trends, according to the UN Children's Fund
(UNICEF). However, worrisome mortality rates, pockets of high global
acute malnutrition, and limited humanitarian presence in some areas
of displacement reflect the continued need to address the underlying
causes of malnutrition through water, sanitation, and hygiene
interventions, as well as programs targeting child care practices.
End summary.

--------
OVERVIEW
--------

1. (U) Available indicators on malnutrition, including new
admissions to feeding centers, food security levels, and sentinel
site data, indicate a generally stable nutrition situation in Darfur
as compared to the same time last year. Exceptions include areas in
South Darfur currently receiving newly internally displaced persons
(IDPs), Kalma IDP camp, and Kabkabiya town.

2. (U) At the approach of the rainy season and the start of the
hunger gap, relief agencies reported 5,039 new admissions to
supplementary feeding centers (SFCs) across Darfur in March and
April, up from 3,262 in January and February. Admissions to
therapeutic feeding centers (TFCs) more than doubled over the same
period, from 593 to 1,233. South and West Darfur account for the
largest increases in admissions. UNICEF notes that these figures are
consistent with reports during the same period in 2006. At a June 7
nutrition coordination meeting in Khartoum, non-governmental
organizations (NGOs) reported that May admissions reflect expected
seasonal trends. Mean weight-height scores gathered at sentinel
sites indicate the anticipated slight deterioration in nutritional
status that occurs at the start of the hunger season.

3. (U) Localized nutrition surveys in March through May reveal
global acute malnutrition (GAM) at or exceeding emergency thresholds
in areas of recent displacement in South Darfur. In addition, UNICEF
notes that crude mortality rates at or above alert levels in three
out of four localized surveys covering portions of South and West
Darfur are potentially of concern. UN agencies and NGOs emphasize
the need to address underlying causes of malnutrition, such as
overall health and access to safe drinking water, through water,
sanitation, and hygiene interventions and infant and young child
feeding and care programs.

------------
SOUTH DARFUR
------------

4. (U) Following poor harvests in 2006 and tribal clashes that led
to new displacements, seasonal malnutrition in South Darfur appears
to have started in March rather than April or May. Data available
indicates increased malnutrition appears "normal" relative to
seasonal levels of chronic malnutrition in Darfur. There is no
statistically significant difference in malnutrition rates between
resident and displaced communities. However, many areas witnessing
recent displacement, such as Buram, Ed el Fursan, and southern
Tulus, have limited or no NGO presence, resulting in limited data.

5. (U) Since March 2007, two rapid assessments and four surveys have
been conducted in both IDP and mixed-IDP and resident-populated
areas in South Darfur. Most survey results indicate GAM rates below
the 15 percent emergency threshold and within expected seasonal
ranges. Nyala town and surrounding IDP camps, minus Al Salam, Otash,
and Kalma, report GAM of 11.8 percent. Results from Kubum and Tulus
are 8.4 percent and 14.1 percent GAM, respectively.

6. (U) Rapid assessments in Kalma and Ed Daien indicate emergency
levels of malnutrition and should be monitored closely. The
nutrition situation in Al Salam camp constitutes a new emergency
with the arrival of more than 6,000 new IDPs in May, and an
estimated 10,000 arrivals to date in June, many of whom are in poor
health. Based on preliminary results from USAID-partner Action
Contre la Faim (ACF) in late May, GAM is 23.3 percent with 2.8
percent severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Efforts to stabilize this

KHARTOUM 00001018 002.2 OF 002


population include hygiene promotion, construction of new latrines,
an expanded outpatient therapeutic program for severely malnourished
persons, and increased access to water.

-----------
WEST DARFUR
-----------

7. (U) UNICEF reports that admissions to SFCs remain highest in West
Darfur, possibly owing to population movement, seasonal illness, and
different numbers of SFCs in each state. The higher admission
numbers may also stem from the proportionally higher number of
reported bloody diarrhea cases in the state.

8. (U) Results from localized surveys and sentinel site data in West
Darfur point to the need for expanded water, sanitation, and hygiene
interventions to prevent and treat illnesses such as diarrhea and
malaria. Sentinel site data from March and April indicate that the
majority of children under five reported an illness in the previous
two weeks, and a localized nutrition survey in For Baranga in
February revealed a crude mortality rate above alert levels at 1.21
percent.

9. (U) A rapid assessment of new IDP and refugee arrivals in Kenyu,
Ramakai, and Koronga in For Baranga locality in May, by USAID
partner Save the Children/US, found malnutrition rates below
emergency levels. However, information on average weight gain and
length of stay in therapeutic feeding programs indicates that many
children are recovering slowly, likely due to families sharing the
rations among family members beyond the targeted child. Insecurity
also leads to particularly high defaulter rates in some localities,
posing an additional challenge to recovery.

------------
NORTH DARFUR
------------

10. (U) Nutrition survey results, low enrollment in feeding centers,
and sentinel site data indicate a generally stable nutrition
situation in North Darfur. However, humanitarian assessments of IDP
camps and rural areas in April and May recommend close monitoring
and nutritional screening of new arrivals. A survey conducted in
Kabkabiya at the peak of seasonal malnutrition in June revealed 27
percent GAM and 1.9 percent SAM. Insecurity, including carjackings
and attacks on NGOs, continues to hamper nutrition programs in North
Darfur.

11. (U) In North Darfur, both UN and NGO staff attribute
malnutrition to poor diet, hygiene, and sanitation, not to food
availability or accessibility. UN agencies and the State Ministry of
Health continue to recommend refresher training for nutrition staff
and emphasize health promotion to combat malnutrition. USAID field
staff note that NGOs are assessing SFC and TFC admission criteria to
correct any artificially low criteria.

--------
COMMENTS
--------

12. (U) Gaps in available nutrition data persist from insecurity
hampering access as well as NGO presence largely based in areas of
greatest concern in 2004 and 2005. New displacement within South
Darfur and movement of IDPs from Mukjar, Zalingei, and Dafak has
created a need for additional nutrition surveillance in currently
underserved areas.

FERNANDEZ

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