Geneva – The Sahelian belt of Chad is facing one of its worst nutrition crises in recent years.Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is calling for quicker and larger deployment of humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of the most vulnerable populations, particularly children under the age of 5.
Several factors including erratic rainfalls, failed harvests, soaring food prices, early depletion of food stocks and poor access to healthcare have contributed to the increase of malnutrition rates. In the Hadjer Lamis region, recent rapid nutrition screening show that over 5% of children under five are suffering from severe acute malnutrition and are at risk of dying. Today, in this region alone, an estimated 5,000 children are in urgent need of nutritional assistance.
“We are very worried about the number of severely malnourished children that our medical teams are seeing – close to 3,000 children were admitted in our programmes in the month of May,” explains Dr Benoit Kayembe, MSF Emergency Medical Coordinator in Chad.
This current rise in malnutrition is a red warning flag as we are just at the beginning of the “hunger season”. More children are at risk of becoming severely malnourished in the coming weeks, until the next harvest expected in October.
National authorities, local and international actors have initiated a response to this severe food security crisis. Despite these efforts, there are still many communities who are not receiving food and nutritional assistance. MSF calls for an acceleration of the emergency response in all affected areas to meet the needs of the most vulnerable, especially children under five.
MSF is currently implementing emergency nutrition interventions in the Hadjer Lamis, Batha, Guéra, Salamat and Quaddai regions as well as in the capital N’Djamena. Our activities include in-patient and ambulatory therapeutic feeding centres and targeted food distributions for over 60 000 children in the coming weeks.
Chad is not the only country facing this malnutrition crisis. Most countries located in the Sahel region are experiencing an increased number of malnourished children. MSF has also already started emergency nutrition programmes, or reinforced existing ones, in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Sudan.