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Protecting children from malnutrition

Source: SOS Children's Villages - UK - Thu, 31 Jan 2013 09:49 AM
Author: SOS Children's Villages UK
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Any views expressed in this article are those of the author and not of Thomson Reuters Foundation.

The launch of the ‘IF’ campaign highlights the shocking statistic that nearly 900 million – one in eight people – go to bed hungry every night. Malnourishment can affect the physical and mental development of children and make them more susceptible to disease. Across the world, a key aspect of SOS Children’s work is ensuring that all children have access to sufficient food and grow up healthy.

These are just a few of SOS Children’s programmes which help more children have a good start in life:

Niger

Living conditions in Niger are desperately difficult. The country has struggled with a chronic food crisis, where droughts and floods have left eight million people without enough food. In some areas there has been no proper harvest for years. Millet, the most important staple in Niger, is now so expensive that many people can barely support themselves.

SOS Children are working to combat hunger and empower parents to ensure their children can grow up healthy. Since 2010, the charity’s Emergency Relief Programme in Niger has reached out to struggling communities. The comprehensive programme of support includes medical supplies for those affected by malnutrition and special therapeutic foods such as peanut butter and cereal bars for malnourished children. In 2012, SOS Children stepped up their work here to reach more families affected by the famine and drought across the Sahel.

The charity are also implementing long-term structures to secure food supplies. Cereal banks have been created which are run autonomously by elected administrative committees in seven communities identified as most in need. This will protect families from the effects of food shortages and food price inflation in the future.

Indonesia

Nearly one in every five Indonesian children under the age of five is underweight. A lack of knowledge about nutrition and a common assumption that eating healthy food is expensive means that many children miss out on vital nutrients.

Since early 2011, SOS Children has been helping to reduce the number of malnourished children in Indonesia. In partnership with government agencies, community groups, local health centres and the media, the charity has launched a variety of programmes in the country. These include nutritional counselling, the distribution of nutrition packages for children, and nutritional awareness campaigns run through their SOS Children’s Villages across the country. In West Java, SOS Children offers classes for local families to learn how to grow vegetables, even in small homes without much land. This ensures they are able to provide for their children’s needs in a long-term and sustainable way.

Uganda

Rising food prices in Uganda have left many families unable to afford even basic foods. The problem is most acute in the north, where in some regions nearly 40% of under-fives are underweight.

SOS Children have been working in Uganda for over 25 years. Through the charity’s four Family Strengthening Programmes, they support vulnerable families to increase their income and give their children an adequate diet. Hands-on ‘field school’ training enables families to produce food for their consumption as well as a surplus to sell and bring in an income. SOS social workers help them to access farming inputs such as seeds, fertilizer and tools, and provide business training to help them to run a small business.

Help children grow up healthy

Through programmes such as these, SOS Children are working to reduce the numbers of malnourished children around the world, and improve their prospects for the future through a healthy diet.

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