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Porridge saving children from malnutrition in Niger
PORRIDGE is saving children’s lives in impoverished areas of Niger in West Africa, according to Irish overseas aid organisation Concern Worldwide.
The vitamin-packed fortified flour they have given to thousands of families going hungry each day has stopped children from becoming malnourished – which the UN says kills three million children globally each year.
The humanitarian organisation said they have also provided struggling families with cash to buy food in what is one of the poorest countries in the world after getting funding from the European Union.
“Children who were going hungry have avoided malnutrition thanks to the cash and flour we provided their parents with,” said Concern’s Niger Country Director, Francesco Tropea.
“Families turn the fortified flour we provide them with into vitamin and mineral rich porridge, which has made the difference. The porridge is especially helpful during the lean season when vulnerable families have completely depleted their food stocks and have no further source of income.
“Malnourished children can die unless they get the treatment they need and they can end up so sick that they can’t even smile or cry – so this sort of preventative measure is critically important.”
Concern has thanked the European Union for humanitarian funding which enabled them to provide cash assistance to 2,000 households (€61 per household) in the Tahoua region of Niger.
They also gave families with children aged between six months and 23 months fortified flour to help prevent malnutrition.
Fortified flour is a high-protein, high-energy food designed to prevent child malnutrition. It is made of millet (or maize), soya, groundnuts and mineral (including iron) and vitamins.
Concern's team organises cooking demonstrations to show families how to use this flour to make nutritious porridge.
One mother from the Gawey village, Aminatou Abdoulaye, said the flour helped her baby boy who is now eating well and smiling with his siblings.
“My youngest son is 10 months old and was often ill,” she said.
"The Concern team gave me 24 kilos of fortified flour over four distributions and advised me to use it to prepare porridge for my child, which I do regularly.
“I noticed that he is doing better these days. He now smiles to his brothers and sisters, eats well and drinks lots of water.”
Concern said the supports it provides with EU funding in the northern areas of Tahoua in Niger is especially needed during the “lean season” from June to September which is the period before the harvest when many families have run out of food.
Niger is prone to periods of drought and extreme flooding, made worse by climate change, which results in livestock deaths and poor food growth. Insecurity in the region can cause the displacement of people away from their farms, which also contributes to lack of food and malnutrition in children.
For more information about how to support Concern please go to concern.net.
For more information or interview requests please contact Kevin Jenkinson at email@example.com
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