Sudan: Breast-Feeding Mothers Get Help Through Hunger Season

Alek Chol needs to be eating nutritious food so that her breast milk will be nourishing to her two-month old baby and help him grow. But in the middle of Southern Sudan's hunger season, the sort of food she needs can be hard to come by. That's why WFP is helping out.

WAU – Southern Sudan is in the thick of the hunger season. With very little food around and the harvest still a few months away, it’s a time when young children are especially vulnerable.

Alek Chol has come with her two-month-old baby boy Atien to this town, the capital of southern Sudan’s Western Bahr el Ghazal state, to pick up her monthly ration of nutritious corn soya blend, sugar and oil provided by WFP.

“She is breastfeeding and needs highly nutritious food which she does not get at home.  We have to make sure that she stays healthy while she breastfeeds her baby,” says Sister Gracy Adichirayil, Coordinator of the Sikka Hadid centre, through which WFP runs its supplementary feeding programme here.

Helping mothers

Mothers in a line holding their babies

Protecting children

Alek and her baby come from Jur River County, one of Western Bahr el Ghazal’s three counties, where more than 100,000 people will need seasonal food assistance and around 11,000 displaced people will need year-round food assistance.

“We want to protect children from malnutrition during this hunger season,” says Sister Gracy, whose religious order – the Salesian Sisters of Don Bosco – runs the Sikka Hadid centre.

“For those who are moderately malnourished, we give them the same ration that we give to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.  Each one will get 6,000 grams (6kgs) of corn soya blend, 600 grams (0.6kg) of sugar and 600 grams (0.6kg) of oil per month for three to four months.”

Too sick to eat

From Monday to Saturday, Sikka Hadid is packed with people, most of them coming from villages as far as 24 kilometres away. Many of them bring sick and malnourished children.

“Lack of food is not the only reason why we are seeing many malnourished children, with some severely malnourished ones.  Most often these children are too sick to eat, so they become malnourished,” said Sister Gracy. Only a couple of days ago, she had to send six severely malnourished babies to hospital for medical treatment and therapeutic feeding.

Sikka Hadid

a nun measuring a womans baby for malnutirionSikka Hadid is the only place in Western Bahr el Ghazal State that offers a whole package of primary health care services including maternal and child health care, health and nutrition education.  The Supplementary Feeding Programme is part of the centre’s package of primary health care services. A total of 5,000 women and children are expected to benefit from the feeding programme during the hunger season.