Nearly Half of Young Children of South Sudan Malnourished because of Drought and Violence

Post a Comment » Written on April 1st, 2010     
Filed under: Disaster Relief

The Covenant Church of Sudan and Ethiopia continue their tireless efforts to bring food to the hungry of drought stricken South Sudan and Western Ethiopia.  Children and the Elderly are the most vulnerable.   The Covenant Church of Sudan is especially targeting orphans, widows, HIV/AIDS victims, and the physically handicapped.  Corn meal and cooking oil have been distributed in eight of fourteen targeted villages.

Many ECC churches and individuals have been supporting this drought relief project since last fall.  $13,500 has been sent so far, but more funds are needed to purchase and distribute additional food. You can send a designated check for “Sudan Drought Relief” to Covenant World Relief  5101 N. Francisco Ave. Chicago, Illinois 60625.  You can also give online through the Covenant Bookstore

Aid agencies launch emergency feeding after finding extreme levels of child malnutrition in southern Sudan

Source: Save the Children Alliance

Date: 29 Mar 2010

Children in remote tribal areas of southern Sudan are facing extreme hunger and could die if they don’t receive emergency food, according to Save the Children and Medair. A recent assessment by the two aid agencies, funded by ECHO and OFDA, has found malnutrition rates in areas in Akobo County, Jonglei State, to be three times the official emergency level.[i]

Over 45 per cent of children under five in the surveyed area were found to be suffering from malnutrition, which means their bodies are literally wasting away and they are extremely susceptible to disease. A third of the cases reported are particularly severe and these children are likely to die if they don’t receive emergency food.

Malnutrition rates are particularly high in Akobo as families were forced to flee their homes to avoid fierce fighting between local tribes at the end of 2009 and were unable to plant their crops.

Save the Children and Medair have launched an immediate emergency response to feed 10,000 children, pregnant women and new mothers. Treatment centres began delivering life-saving food and medicine for malnourished children today (29 March).

“Our team was shocked by the situation they found,” says Jeri Westad, Country Director for Medair. “This is one of the most severe cases of malnutrition we have seen in southern Sudan in recent years and needs an urgent response.”

Families surveyed in Akobo reported that three-quarters of their children had been sick in the last two weeks, with most of them suffering from diarrhoea. The health system in southern Sudan was devastated during two-decades of civil war. Only a quarter of the population have access to a functioning health clinic so diseases can be become fatal. One in seven children die before their fifth birthday.

“Malnutrition levels are already at lethal levels and hunger will only increase as the next crop isn’t due until August and families are nearing the end of their food supplies,” said Kate Foster, Director of Programme Development for Save the Children in southern Sudan.

Families said that their food supplies were so low they were already eating only one meal a day and had begun to sell their livestock to buy food. Others reported that youths had left to join the army in order to raise money to buy food for their families.

Foster said: “We need to act now so that young lives are not lost. This year there will be more people in greater need and they will need help for longer. The rainy season is coming, as are the national elections, which will both hinder our ability to respond. The rainy season will also increase the risk of children suffering from malaria and diarrhoea, which are the biggest killer diseases here.”

Akobo has been the epicentre of fierce conflict between two neighbouring tribes since the start of 2009. The fighting means that farmers and their families have been forced from their land and are unable to plant crops to feed themselves, compounding an already precarious food situation in southern Sudan. The rains failed last year and there was a widespread regional drought which forced up the prices of imported food that many families rely on but can no longer afford. An estimated 4.5 million people, half the population of southern Sudan, are expected to need some form of food assistance in the coming months.

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