In Niger, UNICEF will provide immediate integrated nutrition treatment to children suffering from severe acute malnutrition; ensure that families utilize infant and young child feeding practices that promote healthy child development; and assist health care providers to promote children's recovery from severe acute malnutrition. In Mali, Save the Children will provide a blanket supplementary feeding program and support to targeted health facilities to reduce the risk of malnutrition among children under 2 and pregnant and lactating women; provide targeted health facilities with sufficient buffer stock of RUTF to help manage acute malnutrition; increase home vegetable garden and training on agricultural practices in vulnerable households and schools; distribute food vouchers, linking local markets to stimulate demand and local economy.
The famine-threatened Sahel region of West Africa is at risk of mass starvation due to failed rains and poor harvests in 2011. Many children have already perished. The World Food Program has warned for months that the hunger crisis in West Africa could reach crisis proportions by the summer unless humanitarian aid is rushed in. Recent estimates for Niger are that 5.5 million people (35% of the population) are food insecure. Half of the affected 5.5 million are children. 300,000 children in that country are being treated for severe malnutrition. In Mali, 3.5 million people, including 700,000 children under five, are affected by the hunger crisis. The results include desperate strategies like selling animals in order to purchase food, reduced quality and frequency of meals, separation of families, and reduced school attendance. These factors make it harder for families to recover and trap many in longer-term poverty. Internally displaced people from the conflict in the north exacerbate the problems.