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Treating malnutrition in Sudan's North Darfur

A volunteer at the Tawila Nutrition Centre measures a child's height. In Sudan, one in every three children under the age of five is stunted. Photo credit: UNAMID/Albert Gonzalez Farran

Sudan is among the countries in the world with the highest rate of undernutrition. One in every three children aged under five is stunted and one in six weighs too little for his or her height. Four states, including North Darfur, have acute malnutrition levels. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is responding to the nutritional needs of vulnerable children through a variety of interventions that include a supplementary feeding programme and the treatment of moderate acute malnutrition for all children under five.

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) is WFP's main partner in its efforts to treat moderate acute malnutrition amongst vulnerable people in Sudan.

Amor Almagro, Public Information Officer, WFP Sudan @AmorAlmagro

Amor Almagro, Public Information Officer, WFP Sudan @AmorAlmagro

Hawa Mohamed Tibin broke into a smile as her 3-year-old toddler Mahadia gave out a loud cry after being lifted from a weighing scale. “Ma’shala ,” she says. She could now see the signs that her daughter was on the way to being cured of malnutrition. Only three weeks ago when she brought Mahadia to the centre, the baby weighed a meager seven kilogrammes. The circumference of her mid-upper arm measured only 11.5 centimetres and she was 76 centimetres tall. All these three measurements showed that she was suffering from moderate acute malnutrition.

The mother has been taking her daughter to the Tawila Nutrition Centre, where, with EU support, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has been able to treat moderate acute malnutrition among displaced children aged under five, pregnant women and nursing mothers in three camps in Sudan's North Darfur state.

A daily treatment of 200 grammes of Super Cereal Plus, a food supplement which WFP uses to treat malnutrition, helped Mahadia to gain 1.6 kilogrammes and her mid-upper arm circumference now measures 13.1 centimeters.

Treatment of moderate acute malnutrition is one of the key services that the Tawila Nutrition Centre offers to the displaced people living in Argo, Dali and Rwanda camps in North Darfur's Tawila locality. Baby Mahadia and her two siblings are among those who benefit from the services that the centre offers.

At the centre, all children under the age of five are screened for malnutrition by measuring their weight in relation to their height, their height in relation to age and the circumference of their mid-upper arm. Like Mahadia, malnourished children are given the food supplement until their weight and other measurements indicate that they are healthy.

Pregnant women and nursing mothers are also screened by the measurement of their mid-upper arm circumference and are put on the same feeding course if they are found to be malnourished.

In addition to the feeding programme, the centre also provides awareness sessions on health and nutrition such as on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding, preparation of highly nutritious meals with local ingredients and general food hygiene. For each session that the mothers attend, they receive a ration of food for their family.

The training and the ration have helped me whip up some healthy and delicious dishes that my children enjoy. I also exchange recipes with other mothers who belong to the 'Mothers Club' that we had to form after completing the training," says Hawa.

Afterwards she adds: "I can even ask them to watch over my children when I have to step out of the house to do some errands and I volunteer to take their children to the centre for check-ups and routine monitoring in case they are unable to do so."

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