Today, UNICEF thanked donors for their generous contributions and the Government for its strong leadership, which together have enabled a concerted response to the current El Niño driven drought in Ethiopia, particularly in treating children with severe malnutrition.
With support from donors, UNICEF has procured 543,631 cartons of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), which represents 22 per cent of the global order for 2015 and is one of the largest single purchases in UNICEF's history. The donors include the Governments of Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States and partners including ECHO and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
To date in 2016, UNICEF procured in 2015 a further 73,344 cartons of RUTF out ofa global procurement estimated at 565,623 cartons, which corresponds to 13 per cent of the global supply. In addition to RUTF, other supplies including therapeutic milk, routine drugs and hygiene and sanitation commodities have been procured as part of the drought response. To accommodate this large volume of supplies and enhance preparedness for the drought response, UNICEF rented a new warehouse in the Gerji area of Addis Ababa, earlier this year.
"On behalf of the Government of Ethiopia and UNICEF, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to the humanitarian donors for their timely and generous financial contributions to purchase Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food that will save the lives of millions of children diagnosed with severe malnutrition," said Ms Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF Representative to Ethiopia. "I would also like to especially thank the Ethiopian Customs Authority, the Ethiopian Food Medicine and Health Care Administration and Akakas Logistics, this enormous supply chain operation would not have been possible without their active support. By accelerating our joint nutrition interventions, we can transform the lives of millions of children to become healthy citizens and reach their full potential."
Ethiopia is experiencing one of the worst droughts in decades due to El Niño weather condition which continues to wreak havoc on the lives of children and their families' livelihoods. According to the latest Humanitarian Requirement Document issued this year, 6 million children are at risk from hunger, disease and lack of water. Malnutrition rates have greatly increased – 450,000 children are expected to be treated for severe acute malnutrition (SAM) this year.
As part of the joint drought response coordinated by the Government, UNICEF is leading the Nutrition, Water Sanitation Hygiene, Education (together with Save the Children) clusters and the Child Protection sub-cluster. Together with other partners, UNICEF implements life-saving humanitarian responses including procurement and supply of therapeutic food and milk, drugs, other medical supplies, plus water/sanitation and education and child protection supplies.
UNICEF also supports the treatment of severely malnourished children through the community-based management of acute malnutrition, with training, quality assurance and coordination with other partners. Regular nutrition screening helps ensure that malnutrition in children is diagnosed and treated early, thereby reducing cases of severe acute malnutrition and life-threatening complications.
The supply of RUTF procured by UNICEF to date to respond to the current emergency is worth
US$28 million including freight and in-country distribution. With the continued effort of the Government and support from humanitarian actors, 350,451 children were treated for severe acute malnutrition in 2015.
Note to editors:
RUTF-Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (also known as to as Plump'nut which is a brand name):
A high protein and high energy peanut-based paste that tastes slightly sweeter than peanut better. It requires no water for preparation or refrigerator and has a two-year shelf life, making it easy to deploy in difficult conditions to treat severe acute malnutrition. It is distributed under medical supervision, predominately to parents of malnourished children where the nutritional status of the children has been assessed by a doctor or a nutritionist.
SAM-Severe Acute Malnutrition:
A result of recent (short-term) deficiency of protein, energy and minerals and vitamins leading to loss of body fats and muscle tissues. Acute malnutrition presents with wasting (low weight-for-height) and/or the presence of oedema (i.e, retention of water in the tissues of the body). Defined as a weight-for-height below minus three standard deviations from the median weight-for-height for the standard reference population, a mid-upper-arm circumference of less than 115 mm, visible severe thinness or the presence of nutritional oedema.
MAM-Moderate Acute Malnutrition:
Defined as weight-for-height between minus two and minus three standard deviations from the media weight-for-height for the standard reference population.
About UNICEF: UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world's largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org