Sahel Nutrition Crisis situation report 2

Sahel Nutrition Crisis situation report 2

A woman feeds ready-to-use therapeutic food to her malnourished daughter, at the UNICEF-supported Routgouna Health Centre, in the town of Mirriah, Mirriah Department, Zinder Region.

23 April 2012

Situation overview

  • An estimated one million children under 5 will suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), or up to 1.5 million in the worst case scenario, and approximately 3 million children with moderate acute malnutrition (MAM). 
  • The number of health centres with facilities for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition across the Sahel has been scaled up from 3,100 in 2011 to just over 4,000.
  • Fundraising efforts for the Sahel nutrition crisis continue, and as of 18 April, of the US$ 119.5 million requested by UNICEF for 2012, 44.8 million (38 per cent) has been received.
  • Further orders have been placed for Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) in Chad, Mali and Niger and will be made in other countries as funds become available to ensure sufficient supplies are available for activities until the year-end.
  • This severe food and nutrition crisis has been compounded by the Armed conflict in Mali, which has provoked mass displacement both internally and across borders into neighbouring counties of which children and women are most affected.
  • UNICEF has identified key gaps in programming sections and is now in the process of identifying priority actions and support needed. The response to the crisis in Mali is being implemented into the overall Sahel integrated response plans for affected countries.

Humanitarian needs

  • In Mali, the official number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) is estimated at more than 100,000, however, this has been difficult to confirm given the situation in the north. Ruptures in basic social services across the north will have a widespread negative impact on the entire population – most notably children. In the north, insecurity prevails and access is difficult. Almost all organisations’ humanitarian activities have been scaled-down or left the area as a result of the conflict. UNICEF has some partners still operating and is working on solutions to expand its coverage.
  • The deteriorating security situation has contributed significantly to the increase in the number of people, mainly children and women fleeing Mali. More than 161,000 people have taken refuge in Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Niger and Algeria. In Mauritania, 56,167 Malian refugees are temporarily residing in Mbera camp. Burkina Faso has recorded 46,354 refugees. In Niger, 26,650 refugees have fled Mali, in addition to 2,390 Nigerians who recently returned. Algeria has not reported on the refugee situation since 19 March, the number still stands at 30,000 Malian refugees in the country since the conflict began. The major, persistent humanitarian needs concern the lack of a potable water supply, food and shelter, the prevention of epidemic diseases as well as ensuring a protective environment for vulnerable children and women. The majority of the host communities are also the most affected by the Sahel food security and nutrition crisis.

UNICEF response

Resource mobilization

  • In an effort to raise visibility about the alarming situation of children in the Sahel and to mobilize funds, UNICEF together with its family of National Committees, launched ‘Sound the Alarm – One million children at risk in the Sahel’ on 3 April to coincide with the visit of the UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake to Chad. Mr. Lake has called for an urgent escalation in humanitarian efforts in the Sahel to prevent the deaths of more than one million children who are at risk of death from SAM.
  • The social media mobilization campaign has been extremely successful in its first 2 weeks, with more than 140 countries active on Twitter and Facebook and raising more than 8 million for the nutrition crisis in the Sahel.


  • Second phase of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) orders have been completed for Chad (10,648 cartons), Mali (10,648 cartons), and Niger (43,229 cartons) for the treatment of SAM; planning is underway for remaining countries and for 2013 replenishment.
  • Across the Sahel, 132,000 cartons of RUTF for the treatment of SAM are already in stock and an additional 178,000 cartons are ordered to cover humanitarian needs up to end June.
  • Sales orders for health supplies have been placed although we have significant funding gaps for the placing of WASH supplies.

Human resources

  • Out of the 110 surge staff to be deployed to the region to support scale-up of activities, 45 are already on the ground or recruited. Urgent funding is needed to ensure rapid recruitment of 10 staff.
  • To better support the IDP and refugee response, additional surge support is urgently being identified by the Mali CO as well as in Mauritania, Burkina Faso and Niger.
  • In Mali, the need for more Child Protection and Education capacity within their office has been highlighted as requiring immediate support to address protection issues, such as child recruitment, sex and gender-based violence and unaccompanied and separated children.