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Over A Million Children Are At Risk Of Severe Malnutrition

Over A Million Children Are At Risk Of Severe Malnutrition In West Africa As Families Struggle To Survive Repeated Food Crises.

For immediate release 6 August 2012

Millions of families in West Africa are now living through a permanent food crisis, a new report published by Save the Children and World Vision warns.

The report, Ending the Everyday Emergency says the current food crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa has put over a million children at risk of severe malnutrition.

Save the Children New Zealand is responding to the crisis with life-saving direct support. With support from the New Zealand government, Save the Children will provide $359,435 towards the emergency response in Mauritania, where an estimated 700,000 people are currently affected by the food crisis.
“We will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis unless we address the underlying drivers of hunger that children in the Sahel face every single year. Millions of children around the world are living a step away from starvation, leaving them vulnerable to being pushed into life-threatening hunger by failed rains, rising food prices and conflict,” said Liz Gibbs, CEO of Save the Children New Zealand.

The report shows that the current emergency is a spike in a wider chronic crisis permanently engulfing the region. An inability to access, grow and store food year after year is the main driving force behind the number of children dying in the poorest region of the world.

Even in a non-crisis year, children in parts of West Africa face the deadly and debilitating effects of

malnutrition at higher rates than many others around the world. Over 200,000 children die every single year due to malnutrition in the Sahel, and this year 1 million children are at risk of severe malnutrition

“The report highlights the benefits of how taking a comprehensive approach to resilience can improve child well being, and move the Sahel towards dramatically reduced rates of hunger and malnutrition,” said Ms Gibbs.

“The New Zealand public were very generous when people faced a similar hunger crisis in East Africa in 2011. Save the Children supporters gave $478,000 and their donations supported a response, which one year on, has reached more than 3 million people with life-saving food, healthcare and water.

These donations save lives and we only hope that New Zealanders will support our appeal to help those children facing hunger right now in West Africa where just $65 can feed one family in Mauritania for a month. To support our emergency appeal the public can visit: or call 0900 67 168 to donate $20” she said.

Specific recommendations from the report:

• Make the reduction of child under-nutrition central to resilience, through coordinated national plans especially prioritising children under two and pregnant women.
• Harness small-scale agriculture for resilience and improved nutrition, ensuring sustainability and resilience and not just an increase in production.
• Invest in social protection and services for the poorest households, particularly for house-holds that are chronically food-insecure as distinct from those periodically suffering from shocks.
• Develop a new plan for how national Governments, international donors, And should work together to prevent hunger Crises, breaking down the barriers between development and humanitarian approaches, between ‘normal’ and ‘crisis’ responses.

Save the Children’s response to the Sahel, West Africa food crisis:

• In Mauritania, 2011 rainfall was below average, unevenly distributed and shortlived.
agricultural and pastoral production was below average (source World Food Programme).
• Cereal production decreased by 38% compared to a five year average, and 52% compared to the previous season.
• Grain prices were above average in the markets.
• An estimated 700,000 people are currently affected by the food crisis
• It has been estimated that in the country 12,600 children will be affected with SAM (Severe Acute Malnutrition)
• Save the Children has now reached 9,800 people through our emergency response
• More than 18 million people are affected by the food crisis in the Sahel region West Africa.
• The crisis is caused by a combination of drought, increased food prices and instability – including conflict in neighboring countries.
• Save the children is responding to the needs of vulnerable children in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.
• With support from the New Zealand government, Save the Children New Zealand is providing funds to implement a direct support programme to assist children and families in the worst affected Brakna and Gorgol regions of Mauritania.
• Direct support programmes strengthen the local economy - the most vulnerable families can purchase the food they need from their local market. This keeps them from selling the livestock that would provide for their future and means they won’t have to sacrifice their children’s education or healthcare.
• A donation of $65 will help a family survive for a month. Donate at:


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