Concern launches major EU-funded programme to tackle childhood malnutrition

Concern has launched a major EU-funded programme to reduce levels of malnutrition, sickness and death among children aged under-five. Photo: Concern Worldwide
Concern has launched a major EU-funded programme to reduce levels of malnutrition, sickness and death among children aged under-five. Photo: Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide has launched a major EU-funded programme to reduce levels of malnutrition, sickness and death among children aged under-five in some of the world’s poorest countries. The three-year programme aims to reach almost 300,000 people.

Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management said: “Africa is a priority for the EU. Where conflict, climate change and natural disasters are already responsible for reduced food availability, the coronavirus pandemic is bringing additional hardships and restrictions to food access.

Through this partnership the EU is embarking on with Concern Worldwide, we aim at ensuring timely provision of life-saving treatment for undernutrition for children by working with local communities and reinforcing the capacities of national health services.”

The EU is allocating €10.03 million in humanitarian aid funding for the programme in the first year. The work will focus on regions within the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, South Sudan and Sudan for the first year, with plans to expand from 2021.

“It is not acceptable that any child should die from malnutrition or face illness or lasting damage such as stunting, yet that is the reality for many children at the start of the 21st century,” Concern Worldwide’s CEO Dominic MacSorley said. “With COVID-19 increasing hunger levels in the world’s most fragile countries, this programmatic partnership with the EU is a critical enabler to protect hundreds of thousands of at-risk children.”

Immediate needs and resilience-building

Concern Worldwide’s Enhanced Responses to Nutrition Emergencies programme will increase the scale, efficiency and effectiveness of its nutrition emergency responses. It will work with local service providers and communities to identify and treat children affected by severe undernutrition, linking proven and innovative solutions to optimise the use of resources and provide early response when crises and shocks hit conflict-affected and disaster-prone countries.

“The programme will draw on Concern Worldwide’s 50 years of expertise in the areas of hunger and nutrition, introducing innovative solutions that will not only address the immediate issue of malnutrition but also address the underlying causes,” Anne O’Mahony, Director of International Programme said.

The programme will not only help in meeting immediate needs, but also build resilience to shocks and stresses through early warning and early action systems. Countries will monitor identified risks and set thresholds of when cash/voucher distribution would be provided to the most vulnerable community members to enable them to acquire staple items.

The overall aims of the programme are to:

• increase the scale and effectiveness of humanitarian preparedness and response for food and nutrition security in the targeted countries, including response to the coronavirus pandemic;

• prevent the severe deterioration of food security of the most vulnerable households affected by humanitarian crises; and

• increase the coverage and quality of treatment of acute malnutrition, while improving behavioural practices that have an impact on the nutrition of children under-five.

Good practice from the programme will be used to feed in to the dialogue and policy debate amongst the wider humanitarian community.

Recognising that climate change and gender inequality are key drivers of hunger and malnutrition, Concern Worldwide will work with Sonke Gender Justice and the Red Cross Climate Centre, global partners recognised for their respective expertise in these fields.

For media queries contact Eamon Timmins, Media Relations Manager, Concern Worldwide, at eamon.timmins@concern.net or 087 9880524.

About EU Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid

The European Union and its Member States are the world's leading donor of humanitarian aid. Relief assistance is an expression of European solidarity with people in need all around the world. It aims to save lives, prevent and alleviate human suffering, and safeguard the integrity and human dignity of populations affected by natural disasters and man-made crises.

Through its Civil Protection and Humanitarian aid Operations department, the European Union helps millions of victims of conflict and disasters every year. With headquarters in Brussels and a global network of field offices, the EU provides assistance to the most vulnerable people on the basis of humanitarian needs.

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