By Taban Henry
South Sudan through the United Nations International Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has recorded over 300,000 cases of malnutrition this year.
This statistics was revealed yesterday during the USAID announcement of another further support of 35 million US dollars to UNICEF to boost the country’s fight against malnutrition in South Sudan.
Speaking during the handover ceremony, UNICEF Country Representative Hamida Lasseko said that there are over 300,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition saying this is not the only year they recorded.
She underlined that the areas that recorded the highest number of malnutrition cases included Jonglei, Unity States and other parts of the country particularly the flood affected areas.
“Three hundred thousand (300,000) children are suffering from malnutrition this year alone and this is not the only year where we have children suffering from severe malnutrition and therefore we very much value this supplies because the RUTF is also expected to rise by 16% in terms of price because of all the challenges that we have globally; inflation and all the logistical challenges that we have been experiencing and even including the stock because even the requirement of the RUTF have even gone much higher,” she said.
Lasseko stressed that “Malnutrition” continues to be a very big challenge especially “severe malnutrition” particularly when it comes to wasting in the history of South Sudan, the vulnerability is even deepening much more now and this is because of the number of reasons that “we all know but it is not only the conflict but also the climatic crisis and of late we have been having COVID-19.”
The UNICEF country representative added that the situation is quite sad for children saying before they were talking about 1.4 million children who were suffering from malnutrition like in the waste you talk about 19 football pitches or stadiums of children who are malnourished its an area that has to be supported.
She noted that their neighbors Somalia they are even like fighting for the same stock adding they are here in need of support to the government and the children of South Sudan otherwise the situation would have been even direr.
“The supplementary funding of 35 million dollars making a total of 60 million that we have received is not only for supplies but also for training, screening and monitoring, it is really appreciated on behalf of all children,” she stated.
“The money spent on these children is above 96% so this is quite a huge contribution, while we treat malnutrition which is really a case in this time but definitely we are discussing much more on our strategies more on prevention of malnutrition and treatment is equally very important hence saving the lives of millions of children,” Lasseko stated.
The UNICEF Country Representative mentioned that as the Country is going towards 2023, it’s going to be more challenging because if you are to see the children who are basically impacted by the ongoing flood which have been continuing for almost three years consecutively.
She said that they are working with WFP and FAO on issues of diversification of diet, promoting home gardens but you can also imagine the challenges this communities are having.
She highlighted that their advocacy is on exclusive breastfeeding which is the best food for a baby when they are born up to at least when they are six months; it is what they are also promoting.
“We are working with the ministry of health to even go to the community level to promote the boma health initiative,” she stated.
Lasseko further hinted they fully understand the challenges in terms of resources that’s in the context of the decline of the humanitarian resources because of some many high priorities in many other parts of the world citing the neighboring country of Somalia where children are dying of hunger.