In South Sudan, fighting that broke out in December 2013 has forced more than one million people to flee their homes. Many of them have gone without food and are suffering from acute malnutrition. In this clinic in the capital, Juba, children get a health check-up and receive specialised nutrition products if necessary.
Staff use a tape measure on the child’s upper arm to check the Mid-Upper Arm Circumference, one of the ways to test for malnutrition. If it’s in the green the child is fine, but if it shows yellow or red on the scale there’s cause for concern.
WFP partners with Concern, an international non-governmental organisation, to carry out a supplementary feeding programme to boost the nutrition of those in need of help. WFP also works with the UN children’s agency, UNICEF, to reach malnourished children, many of whom are living in remote areas cut off by fighting and the seasonal rains.
UNICEF estimates that 235,000 children under the age of five will require treatment for severe acute malnutrition this year – twice as many as last year. As many as 675,000 children will need treatment for moderate acute malnutrition.
These kids are the lucky ones. Their families have taken refuge in a site protected by the United Nations in Juba. But many people are living in makeshift camps in isolated parts of the country where WFP has to fly in life-saving assistance or deliver it by airdrops.
A child tucks in to a packet of ready-to-use supplementary food which comes in the form of a peanut-based paste. Each sachet provides 500 kcal worth of energy and is packed with vitamins and minerals. With a daily dose for two months, malnourished children can recover quickly.
This baby’s height is being measured to check for chronic malnutrition or stunting, where a child fails to grow and develop properly. Good nutrition up to the age of two is particularly important if children are to thrive and reach their full physical and mental potential in adult life.
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