Niger: Help needed for hungry children

2012-06-22 17:32
<a href="http://www.shutterstock.com">Shuttertstock</a>

Shuttertstock

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Zinder - In a shady corner of a remote, sun-baked village square in Niger, aid worker Boubacar Halirou wraps his measuring tape around the skinny arms of a hungry toddler and identifies another victim of severe malnutrition.

Halirou, who works for the local aid group Befen, is crisscrossing the region looking for emaciated youngsters as the impoverished West African desert nation faces a drought-driven food crisis.

In the remote village of Tiss in Niger's southeast, Halirou and his colleague Jarjussou identify two other kids with severe malnutrition, as well as six less serious cases in this community of squat clay dwellings, 10km to the west of the large town of Zinder.

In Niger, one in four children will not reach the age of five. Dozens of mothers have gathered around Halirou so their youngsters can be examined.

"It's not always easy to be accepted. Some prefer traditional treatments to modern medicine," Halirou says.

Workers for Befen, which is financed by the European Union and the French aid group Alima, instruct mothers of malnourished children to take their offspring to the nearest health centre.

Some villages in the region are 20km from the nearest centre - a round trip which must be done on foot.

"It's one of our biggest worries," says Halirou, calling the mothers "courageous".
Care centres

To try to improve the situation, Befen has set up 17 care centres in the region, like one in Tirmini, which Halirou and Jarjussou reach in 4x4 trucks.

In Tirmini, Rabu, 18, her face framed with a veil, uietly recounts how her boy "started to get diarrhoea and vomiting, before becoming malnourished".

Crying children are inspected one by one. The mothers wait anxiously, sitting inside and outside on mats.

After a consultation, the worst-off kids receive some "plumpy nut", a mixed paste of sugar, peanuts, milk powder and vitamins that keeps well in the high heat. The mothers pack a week's rations into their scarves.

"I think my child will regain his health," murmurs Rakia, 28, with another baby on her back. She was visiting for the first time and will make the journey again in a few days with other women from her village to avoid the walk through the bush alone.

Other diseases


Severe malnutrition brings the risk of other diseases, such as malaria, pneumonia or respiratory infections.

The most serious cases are sent to the intensive care centre in the hospital in Mirriah district, 30km west of Zinder, which partners up with Befen.

The worst time of year is usually between June and September when food stocks fall short and before the new harvest, and it is the busiest time for the centre, which can take in up to 200 children.

A doctor in the hospital said the children who came here have a 99% chance of survival.

In 2011, Befen took charge of 2 086 children in the area. This year, with a drought- and price-driven food crisis threatening six million people in Niger out of 18 million people in the Sahel desert region, the number of children in the group's care could rise by about 15%.

On the way back to his Zinder office, Hamidine Illa, a doctor working for the local branch of Befen, dreams aloud. He would like to see children followed up "from conception and for 1 000 days", or up until about the age of two, the phase of life in which they are most vulnerable.

Read more on:    niger  |  west africa  |  famine  |  aid
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Today is a good day to network and share your ideas and thoughts with your colleagues and friends. Information overload is...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.