UNICEF, WFP launch nationwide nutrition plan in Aweil

10 Sep 2015

UNICEF, WFP launch nationwide nutrition plan in Aweil

9 September 2015 - With a child becoming severely malnourished every two minutes, the nutrition situation in South Sudan remained dire, UNICEF Country Representative Jonathan Veitch said in a press statement today.

The statement was jointly issued by UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP), as both agencies and their partners launched an enhanced nutrition plan in the Northern Bahr El-Ghazal State capital Aweil.

The agencies, who began the joint nutrition approach last year, are continuing into the second year of the
nationwide plan. They are seeking to assist over two million people, including children, pregnant women and new mothers, for treatment and prevention of acute malnutrition until May 2016.

“In the first year we worked under extremely difficult conditions to bring much-needed nutrition assistance to as many people and as many places in the country as we possibly could,” said Joyce Luma, the WFP Country Director and Representative. “Looking forward, we want to improve on the quality of nutrition services to continue to prevent and treat acute malnutrition.”

Speaking in Aweil, Mr. Veitch said UNICEF and partners had admitted in the first six months of this year the highest number of children with severe acute malnutrition for treatment since independence.

“I want to deliver a warning, that the nutrition situation in South Sudan and also here in Northern Bahr El-Ghazal remains dire,” he said. “We can still lose a generation of children. One quarter of a million children need treatment in 2015 for severe acute malnutrition.”

The top UNICEF official said the plan would improve the number of children treated and quality of intervention, data collection and capacity of non-governmental organizations and government partners.

According to the press statement, the nutrition response plan will also work to address root causes of malnutrition, such as poverty, inadequate water and sanitation, and infant and young child feeding practices.

It added that the lifesaving programme, funded by donors including the European Commission, Japan, Norway, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States (US), would look to engage more local and government partners and improve their capacity to treat malnutrition.

“I am impressed by the impact of this nutrition plan over the two years of life it has had,” said U.S. Ambassador Molly Phee. “I know the American people who contributed $7.5 million would be proud of the positive impact of their generosity and support.

“But I must speak frankly and say I am also depressed,” Ms. Phee said. “I am depressed to see firsthand the damage to the people and the society of South Sudan caused by decades of conflict and bad government from the North. I am depressed by the pain and harm inflicted on the innocent mothers and children, who are suffering from malnutrition.”

The delegation visited a location where the programme’s work would be carried out at a community feeding centre in Maduany Payam, Aweil West County.

Northern Bahr El-Ghazal State Minister of Health Tong Deng Anei revealed that more than 200,000 women and children in the state would benefit from the programme.