WFP Helping Burundi’s Fight Against Malnutrition

At Gakere health centre in the northern province of Ngozi, the World Food Programme is providing vital food supplements to malnourished pregnant women, nursing mothers and children under five.

Little Cécile weighed 2.70 kgs at birth in 2010. As time passed, her mother, Vénancie Sinzotuma, noticed that her youngest daughter was not growing normally. As soon as Cécile’s mother learned from a neighbour that WFP had a special feeding programme at Gakere, she did not hesitate.

"Her weight didn’t reach 8 kgs until February this year so I decided to take her to the health centre,” said mother-of-two, Vénancie. “Within the space of a month, she gained 700 grams.”

Vénancie Sinzotuma was queuing at the centre along with other mothers, carrying her daughter on her back. She had come to check how the health of her child was progressing. Other mothers had suspected their children had malnutrition and had come to get their children diagnosed and, if necessary, registered in WFP’s supplementary feeding project.

Little Cécile is among the children whose health is improving and who will soon no longer need supplementary food. And she is not the only one. According to Claude Niyonkuru, the director of the health center, nearly 60 percent of malnourished children assisted through WFP’s supplementary feeding programme since October 2012 have completely recovered. WFP is implementing the initiative in 206 health centres throughout Burundi.

Malnourished women and children are given fortified corn-soya blend (which can be made into a porridge), sugar, and vegetable oil fortified with vitamins A and D to return them to full health. The programme is making a big difference in this country where chronic malnutrition rates are as high as 58 percent, according to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey.