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UN agencies mount joint response to avert malnutrition crisis in Burundi

UN agencies mount joint response to avert malnutrition crisis in Burundi

In the face of an impending malnutrition crisis in Burundi, a coalition of United Nations humanitarian agencies has mounted a coordinated strategy to help the people of the region overcome the effects of dwindling food supplies and drought-stricken crop yields.

The inter-agency response, announced today in a statement by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), will address the consequences of the late arrival of rains last fall in Burundi, which could contribute to reduced agricultural production and increasing malnutrition in that country this year.

The World Food Programme (WFP), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF), along with OCHA and the Government of Burundi say that, to respond to the crisis, they will require an additional $20.4 million.

Nine years of civil war, displacement and a weak economy have exacerbated the humanitarian crisis in Burundi, the agencies say. The population of Burundi has become increasingly vulnerable, and while fighting has cut off access to many of the most vulnerable, their need for assistance has increased. They warn that cases of kwashiorkor are on the rise and a malaria epidemic has also been declared in parts of the country. The situation could deteriorate further if fighting and displacement intensifies as experienced in the provinces of Ruyigi, Gitega, Bubanza, Muramvya and Bujumbura Rural.

In response to these multidimensional problems, the UN has developed a coordinated approach to consolidate and reinforce its own capacity encouraging and supporting the Government of Burundi, non-governmental organizations and civil society to respond to the possible crisis and prevent its future occurrence.