- A remarkable partnership has been sealed between Irish Aid and the UN children’s agency [Unicef] with the former contributing €450,000 to the latter. The money was meant to support the Lesotho government’s response to battle what is considered as the worst droughts the country had experienced in 30 years.
As a result of a streak of consecutive droughts that have hit the southern African country over the past decade, many people have been forced to live in a state of chronic vulnerability. This leaves 20% of the country’s children underweight and 38% of children under five years chronically malnourished.
“This situation is expected to worsen because of the current drought and the increase in acute malnutrition,” Unicef said in a statement.
“Moreover, food shortages worsen the plight of people living with and affected by HIV and diminish an individual’s overall health status. Children, especially orphans and under 5’s, are more likely to suffer the effects of acute or chronic malnutrition and are in turn more susceptible to disease. In addition, malnutrition increases the likelihood that a child will be less responsive to HIV treatment.”
Unicef was concerned with the serious situation, which was why it has endeavoured to support the government of Lesotho to reduce excess mortality related to the impact of the drought through appropriate management and prevention of severe malnutrition in children under 5 yeas of age.
“This generous contribution will go a long way in helping vulnerable children by building on already existing programmes and ensuring a more comprehensive response,” Unicef Representative in Lesotho, Ms. Aichatou Diawara-Flambert, said.
The Irish funds is expected to address the specific needs of Lesotho children through the establishment of 60 therapeutic feeding centers in schools and hospitals. The money will also enable the strengthening of national nutrition surveillance system and establishment of sentinel sites to regularly monitor the trends in malnutrition and support evidence based programming.
In his comments at the signing ceremony, the Irish Ambassador to Lesotho, Paddy Fay expressed his delight to enter into such a momentous agreement.
About 4,000 severely malnourished children will benefit from therapeutic feeding interventions and 16,000 moderate to severely malnourished children and their mothers will benefit from supplementary feeding interventions through this project. The contribution covers a six month period as part of the Unicef Flash Appeal for the current emergency.
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