Tackling Child Malnutrition in Chad
Chad, a country located in Central Africa, faces one of the highest levels of child malnutrition worldwide. A meta-analysis of child malnutrition in sub-Saharan Africa from 2006 to 2016 found that 39.9% of children in Chad suffered from stunting and 28.8% were underweight. Extreme weather events and conflict in the country exacerbate food insecurity, making it more difficult for many families to provide adequate, nutritious diets for their children. To help improve children’s health and reduce food insecurity, four recent initiatives are tackling child malnutrition in Chad.
Scaling Up Nutrition
Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) is an organization that collaborates with low- and middle-income countries’ governments to organize malnutrition prevention efforts. In 2017, SUN developed partnerships with five civil society organizations in Chad focused on improving nutrition. SUN has also established six local Civil Society Alliance offices across different provinces of the country. With SUN’s support, these organizations adopted nutrition as an integral part of their development plans. SUN has also trained and mobilized 35 radio presenters and journalists for nutrition communication, who continue to help raise awareness on malnutrition across the country.
Collaboration with UNICEF and the UK
Through its Department for International Development, the U.K. committed £4 million to a collaboration with UNICEF to reduce acute malnutrition in Chad in 2018 and 2019. Using this grant, UNICEF provided therapeutic milk, Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food and essential drugs to 58,670 children across 20 provinces nationwide.
UNICEF also used the DFID grant to develop more sanitary and hygienic health centers, improving 30 facilities across the country. This development benefited an estimated 40,000 mothers and caregivers of children suffering from acute malnutrition.
Zafaye West Health Center
A nutrition project that UNICEF and the U.K.’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office sponsored supports the Zafaye West Health Center. The project selected N’Djamena, where the health center is located, as a priority province in Chad for nutrition aid because a 2019 survey detected a high prevalence of acute malnutrition in the area.
Community volunteers from the center travel door-to-door to reach out to mothers, encouraging them to visit the health center to check up on their children’s health and engage in educational campaigns. The campaigns educate mothers on the importance of balanced diets for their children and teach them nutrient-dense, affordable recipes to prepare. The nutrition project has saved 43,000 children, located within the six target provinces it serves, from acute malnutrition as of June 2021.
The World Food Programme (WFP)
The World Food Programme is an organization that provides food assistance across more than 80 countries worldwide. WFP helps provide nutritious meals to 120,000 school children in the Sahel, the region of Africa where Chad is located. The organization also feeds 15,000 children in the Lake Chad region through an emergency school meal program.
In addition, WFP helps prevent child malnutrition in Chad among 6-month-olds to 2-year-olds by providing cash-based nutrition support to their families. This support provides families with more stable access to nutrient-dense foods.
Although many children in Chad currently face malnutrition, these four initiatives are making progress in eradicating this issue. With this support, child malnutrition in Chad may decline in the years to come.
– Aimée Eicher