A groundbreaking programme has been launched by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid (ECHO) to enable prompt response to life-saving essential nutrition, sanitation, and hygiene supplies to children in conflict-affected North-East region.

A statement by UNICEF representative in Nigeria Cristian Munduate on 19 June 2023 noted that the collaboration will address the need of those living in crowded camps for displaced persons and conflict-stricken locations throughout the region.

Adding that one of the key factors of the Rapid Response Mechanism is to serve the most underserved communities in hard-to reach-locations, with a lifesaving integrated package of nutrition and WASH assistance to cushion the effect.

“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 acutely 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 waste, with only 31 per cent of these children having access to treatment services. This year alone, UNICEF and its partners project that over 700,000 children will require wasting treatments across North-East Nigeria.

“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 waste 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.

“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.”

Munduate added, “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.” UNICEF seeks to advance over 190 countries by ensuring that every child, everywhere has a better world, while more € 538 million has been provided to Nigeria, Since 2014, and with the recent €40 million funding allocated in 2023.

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