Hey Next Gen, are you a Hero for Zero preventable deaths in the Sahel?
Three months ago, UNICEF sounded the alarm. The Sahel region was in dire need of assistance as the drought season approached and an increasingly large number of children (1.1 million children under five to be exact) faced severe acute malnutrition. Programs were assembled and the campaign to provide desperately needed food and nutritional supplements to the children of the Sahel began. Even though the Sahel is still in urgent need of all the help UNICEF and our irreplaceable supporters can offer, we thought we would take a moment to update you on the progress we’ve made so far.
So…what is the Sahel?
The Sahel is a handful of sub-Saharan countries that stretch across west and central Africa. These countries include: Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon. Over the past few months, the Sahel region has not received the attention it deserves. Massive food shortages and exorbitant food prices have left over one million children starving and suffering. In April, UNICEF decided this was unacceptable and turned to its supporters to raise the $120 million required to provide the services that would help save these children.
UNICEF’s Game Plan
UNICEF’s efforts in the Sahel coupled immediate crisis management with long-term program implementation to tackle the crisis. In addition to supplying food and nutritional supplements, UNICEF made it its goal to develop a water and sanitation infrastructure throughout the Sahel and provide children with an enriching education that would increase their likelihood of success in the face of this harsh food crisis.
The end of June marked the end of UNICEF’s largest campaign against child malnutrition in Chad. During the three-month mission, UNICEF distributed Plumpy’Doz, a nutritional supplement that can vastly improve a child’s health, and therapeutic milk to 200,000 children aged 6 months to 23 months immensely improving their chances of survival and growth rates. As part of UNICEF’s comprehensive approach soap, deworming medicine, and Vitamin A were also provided in an effort to improve children’s hygiene and increase their knowledge on overall health practices.
In Mali, a significant drive was made to bring the most vulnerable children suffering from severe acute malnutrition to health centers across the region and educate parents on the signs of malnutrition so they can seek help for their children early on. UNICEF also teamed up with local organizations in Nigeria, such as the Société de Transformation Alimentaire (STA), to produce and distribute nutritional supplements, an extremely important element of UNICEF’s fight against the severe incidence of malnutrition in the Sahel.
Your help saving these children’s lives is still desperately needed. Please, become a Hero for Zero and help UNICEF raise the $120 million we need to address this emergency. For more information regarding the Sahel Crisis, click here: http://www.unicefusa.org/work/emergencies/sahel/.
Annabelle Eliashiv is a Next Gen volunteer engaging readers in Next Gen’s latest project. Photo Credit: Niger, 2010 © UNICEF/NYHQ2010-1584/Pierre Holtz