Sahra and child at Dadaab refugee camp (Copyright: Lydia Wamala)
A special ready-to-use food is meeting the approval of those at the front line of the battle against malnutrition - the mothers of young children. Preventing malnutrition in the first two years of life is the best way to ensure children grow up healthy in mind and body.
Mothers in the world’s largest refugee camp, in Dadaaab, Kenya, already have positive things to say about Plumpy'Sup, a special nutrition product WFP introduced by WFP last month.
At a health post in Hagadera, one of three main sections of Dadaab, WFP spoke to mother-of-eight, Katum Muhumed Abdi, who brought her two and a half-year-old son for health and nutrition services.
“I like the paste because it will help my child to grow and be healthy", she said. "He's my son so I can tell when he's not well, like now. I will keep on coming to the health centre if that's what it takes for him to be healthy. I don’t have money to buy the food he needs so I'm happy I have this.”
Easy to eat
Fahio Ahmed Mualim (19), who brought her two-year old son, Muah Muhamed, to the same centre also approves the product. "It's really nutritious", she said, "and it's easy for my baby to eat".
Sahra Salat Osman, who brought her sister’s child, 12-month-old Derejo Jackson, to the centre, said she liked the idea of Plumpy'Sup. "I can see the child enjoys it”, she said.
The Hagadera health post is part of a of a hospital run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC). WFP partners the IRC on a supplementary feeding programme for malnourished children as well as on hospital feeding.
“Plumpy'Sup is a good product for children suffering from moderate malnutrition", says nutrition manager, Millicent Kavosa. "It's portable and ready to use. Families don't need to incur the cost of firewood to cook it. It's easy to handle and therefore the risk of getting diarrhea and other hygiene-related diseases is reduced. Babies like the taste of the paste. The nutrition content is high – it provides iron, protein and 500 kilocalories per child per day.”
Seven packs a week
A peanut-based paste packed with essential vitamins and minerals, Plumpy'Sup is used to treat children diagnosed with moderate malnutrition. It works well if taken alongside other foods. Families with sick children at Dadaab receive seven packs every week.
Refugees fleeing famine, drought and conflict in Somalia continue to arrive in Dadaab at a rate of some 1,200 people per day - many are week and suffering with complications such as acute malnutrition. Initially planned for 90,000 refugees in 1991, the camp currently holds an estimated 460,000 refugees.
Results from a rapid mass screening in Dadaab in July put rates of acute malnutrition at between 18 to 42 percent among recently arrived young children. This represents a level significantly above the emergency threshold of 15 percent. The health situation there has been complicated by a measles outbreak.
In addition to general food distributions for the entire refugee population in Dadaab, WFP provides a range of special nutrition products for vulnerable women and children.