With up to 18,000 children in Madagascar's south-eastern region showing signs of acute malnutrition, United Nations agencies are supporting Government-initiated emergency food and medical assistance, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said today.
A recent nutritional assessment, carried out in response to food shortages in the Atsimo Atsinanana region, indicated that up to 14,000 children may be acutely malnourished and 3,700 suffering severe malnutrition.
Repeated floods, insect infestation and drought, and lack of a clove harvest due to the biannual cycle of the crop are thought to have turned chronic food shortages into an emergency situation this year, OCHA said.
In response to the situation, the Government is providing food, material and medical assistance, with support from UNICEF, WFP, and NGOs German Agro-Action, Catholic Relief Services and Caritas.
The WFP intends to provide some 300 tons of food for targeted distribution to 7,800 families with children at serious risk. Approximately 200 tons of this assistance will be distributed as take-home rations for primary school students. The WFP will also increase its food-for-work activities.
UNICEF will work with the Government to establish five therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres, and will complement WFP's efforts through the provision of sugar and oil.
The UN's response is being coordinated by the Resident Coordinator of the UN system in Madagascar, with support from OCHA.