THE Coleraine and District Branch of UNICEF is appealing for help to combat child malnutrition in the Sahel area of Africa.
UNICEF needs to raise £77 million to stop child hunger across eight countries in West Africa: Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria and Senegal.
The lives of millions of children in West Africa are at risk as a result of drought, chronic poverty, and a sharp rise in food prices. UNICEF recognises there is now a race against time to prevent a wide-scale emergency such as the one seen in East Africa last year.
The crisis worsens an already fragile situation. Countries in West Africa have some of the highest mortality rates in the world: one in five children dies before the age of five. Severely malnourished children are nine times more likely to die from preventable diseases. A new food crisis could put the lives of over 1 million children across the region at risk of malnutrition.
Most affected countries in the region are landlocked, and this presents a serious challenge to the distribution of essential supplies. A lack of clean water is also further compounding the risk of disease among malnourished children. Several countries in West Africa already have areas in emergency, with more than one in six children malnourished.
UNICEF has the right systems in place to deal with the threat of child hunger, but needs support to provide enough supplies and services to vulnerable children in region.
Just £6.50 could feed a malnourished child for a week. Readers who wish to contribute should contact the branch treasurer, Mrs. Edith Ludlow at 7 Grange Road, Coleraine or donate on line to www.unicef.org.uk