July 31, 2012

A complex series of nutritional crises is unfolding across the nations of Africa’s Sahel region, where one million children will be treated for malnutrition this year, according to UNICEF. Malnutrition rates always hover near warning level in this mostly desert region, but during the hunger gap, the number of cases spikes and hundreds of thousands of children become at risk of death.

MSF is expanding its nutritional activities to address this seasonal “peak” in malnutrition rates, while also developing longer-term approaches it can integrate into its regular programs in order to provide lasting ways to mitigate this chronic health crisis. To read more on MSF's new approach to malnutrition in the Sahel, click here.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso 2012 © Aurelie Baumel/MSF

Malian refugees in one of Burkina Faso’s refugee camps. Since January, ongoing instability in their country has forced over 160,000 Malians into refugee camps in neighboring countries. The camps, which are frequently located in inhospitable desert areas, were already in dire need of increased international aid before the hunger gap pushed the situation to crisis levels.


Mali 2012 © Foura Sassou Madi/MSF

An MSF staff member distributes shelter kits to displaced people in the village of Aglal in the Timbuktu area. MSF has been providing basic healthcare and nutritional monitoring throughout Mali, which has been destabilized by ongoing conflict and tension between Tuareg rebels and Islamist military groups.


Chad 2012 © Catherine Robinson/MSF

A group of mothers wait to have their children checked at a MSF ambulatory treatment feeding center in Dougine. Chad experienced alarming levels of malnutrition unusually early in the year. MSF is working with the Chadian Ministry of Health to set up mobile clinics and therapeutic feeding centers to combat an outbreak of meningitis, as well as malnutrition.


Mauritania 2012 © Victor Raison

A child is monitored at an Outpatient Nutritional Rehabilitation Center. The refugee camps in Mauritania (Mbera, Fassala, and Bassikounou) have experienced an influx of Malian refugees.


Niger 2012 © Julie Remy/MSF

A nomad with his cattle in the Maradi region. Since the widespread malnutrition crisis of 2005, Niger's health officials have worked to actively address the now-endemic problem. Of the 56,000 severely malnourished children treated by MSF in the Sahel between January and the end of June, more than 36,000 were treated in Niger.

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