The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in partnership with European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) has launched a programme to expedite life-saving responses and deliver essential nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene supplies to children in Nigeria’s conflict-affected North-East region.
A statement issued by UNICEF on Monday, June 19, 2023, said, this new collaboration between the two agencies targets those living in crowded camps for displaced persons and conflict-stricken locations throughout the region.
According to the statement, through the coordination of the Rapid Response Mechanism, this action will seek to reach the most underserved communities in hard-to reach-locations, with a lifesaving integrated package of nutrition and WASH assistance to address their immediate needs.
It noted that, “with generous funding from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO), this life-changing initiative aims to uplift the lives of nearly 88,000 people including nearly 50,000 severely acute malnourished children.
“The programme’s main objective is to establish preventative measures and treatments to mitigate wasting, disease outbreaks, and child protection risks, thereby reducing mortality and morbidity amongst children already plagued by conflict and repeated displacements.
“The longstanding conflict in Nigeria’s north-east region continues to extract a grave toll on children’s wellbeing, as well as on pregnant and lactating women.
“The UN estimates that over 8 million people require humanitarian aid, with roughly 2.2 million children under five and pregnant or lactating women suffering from wasting in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states.
“Alarmingly, 60% of children in these three states are impacted by wasting, with only 31 percent of these children having access to treatment services. This year alone, UNICEF and partners project that over 700,000 children will require wasting treatments across North-East Nigeria”.
UNICEF also informed that, the innovative programme will extend the use of the mid-upper arm circumference (MUAC) approach—an easily applied method for assessing children’s malnutrition status—to a greater number of vulnerable infants and young children.
Additionally, it will empower mothers and caregivers to identify wasting in their children. Slated to run for one year, this programme will prioritize supporting both nutrition and Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) sectors, enabling partner organizations to coordinate effectively and deliver vital supplies swiftly, particularly in crisis-prone locations.
Speaking in the development, UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate said, “Children and women in North-East Nigeria need not continue being deprived of fundamental survival services. We must work relentlessly to eradicate wasting and prevent needless deaths among the country’s most disadvantaged individuals.
“We are profoundly grateful for ECHO’s support, which will enable us to reach the most vulnerable children. This means fewer deaths and more healthy children. It also ensures our clinics will consistently have essential medications and micronutrients to enhance child survival rates”, she stated.