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On the Edge of Famine in a Country Ravaged by Conflict

On the Edge of Famine in a Country Ravaged by Conflict

Saving lives in Nigeria

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Right now, the world is facing an unprecedented crisis, with 20 million people on the edge of famine.

At the heart of this crisis is Nigeria, where a seven-year-long conflict triggered by Boko Haram, has devastated the north-eastern corner of the country. 

The violence has uprooted millions from their homes as well as decimated trade and agriculture. As a result, more than five million people are unable to feed themselves and two million are estimated to be malnourished, including over 700,000 children under the age of five, with life-threatening severe acute malnutrition.  

The epicentre of Nigeria’s deepening food crisis is Borno State, where attacks on civilians, carried out by Boko Haram, began in 2009. The insurgent group continues to carry out attacks on the civilian population, with several towns and other areas now under Boko Haram control. The State capital, Maiduguri, has seen its population double from one million to two, as people flee violence in other parts of the state. The influx puts an enormous strain on already impoverished communities, making even basic food staples hard to come by.

International Medical Corps, with support from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), is running nutrition clinics at 11 sites across Maiduguri. Since March 2017, the sites have delivered preventive and curative care to approximately 3,000 children with severe acute malnutrition. They have also provided 16,600 pregnant and breastfeeding mothers with healthy infant and young child nutrition information. The organization is also distributing vitamin-fortified food to children as well as pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, together with the World Food Programme, in an effort to prevent malnutrition.

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A mother receives her ration of supplemental food, which she gives to her children, on a daily basis, who are between six and 24 months old, in order to add essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to their diet. 

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Women divide up their rations of vitamin-fortified oil and flour following an International Medical Corps distribution at NYSC camp.

The oil and flour rations are given to pregnant and breastfeeding mothers each month in an effort to keep them and their children well-nourished.  

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Mothers are divided into groups of 10, who split up the rations so that each get 750 ml of oil and 7.5 kg of flour a month.

As of early August, over 200 mothers received food rations from the distribution at NYSC Camp.

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Aisha, a mother of four, walks back to her shelter in NYSC Camp with her monthly ration of oil and flour.

She and her family fled their home in Borno State in northeast Nigeria when Boko Haram attacked, forcing them to travel first by foot and then by truck to reach Maiduguri. 

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Mothers and caretakers bring children to be screened and treated for malnutrition at International Medical Corps' ECHO-funded outpatient nutrition clinic in Mairi Kuwait, a neighbourhood in Maiduguri. 

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One of International Medical Corps’ community health volunteers holds a child, suffering from severe acute malnutrition, at the nutrition clinic in Maisandari 2, a neighbourhood in Maiduguri.

The community health volunteers check children’s mid-upper arm circumference and weight before sending them onto a clinician for a in-depth check-up.

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A child is admitted to International Medical Corps’ nutrition program in Maisandari 2.

The nutrition clinic mostly cares for host community members and is currently treating approximately 190 acutely malnourished children.

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As part of the admission process, children are given a sachet of RUTF to test their appetite.

Children with good appetite can be treated as outpatients, while those who refuse to eat will be referred to a stabilization centre for around-the-clock care.

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One-year-old Fatima was admitted to International Medical Corps' outpatient nutrition clinic in Maisandari 2, on 1 August 2017, with severe wasting. She weighed a staggering 4.9 kg and became severely acutely malnourished after falling ill with diarrhoea, according to her mother, who travelled from another part of Maiduguri in order for her daughter to receive care. 

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