December 5, 2022

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In the Horn of Africa, children are threatened by rising prices of nutrition bars to fight famine

At the base of an acacia in the north Kenya – Drought-affected area – Children swallow paste made from concentrated peanut butter, an essential therapeutic food to save them from malnutrition. Easy to use, easy to transport and store, these bars are essential for young residents of Marsabit County, where aid workers are horrified to see children starving to death. “If One Quits” These precious foods are rich in calories, vitamins and essential minerals, We will record other deaths soonJames from the NGO World Vision scares Jarzo.

But now the cost of ready-to-use pasta, known by its English abbreviation RUTF Ready to use therapeutic food – “Therapeutic food is ready to use »), and Plumby’Nut from French Nutriset, the most popular brand. Since the start of the war UkraineBy the end of February, it had become increasingly difficult to produce and obtain them, a concern for UNICEF, which buys nearly 80% of the world’s supply.

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Ukraine is a major exporter of sunflower oil, wheat and other grains, and Russia’s invasion of the country has affected commodity prices and availability, but also weighed on fuel prices and supply chains, already hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, the prices of powdered milk, vegetable oils and groundnuts – the three main ingredients of RUTF – have risen, explains Christian Rudert, Nutrition Adviser at the UNICEF Office for West Africa. ‘East. Even red and white plastic packaging has become expensive and scarce, he said, adding that fuel prices have made deliveries more expensive.

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Nutricet, whose Plumby’Nut products benefited 9.7 million children last year, has made two consecutive price hikes for its nutrition bars from May 2021, AFP reported in a statement, a 23% increase. Unicef ​​predicts that RUTF prices will increase by 16% by November compared to pre-war levels in Ukraine.

A revolutionary product

The price hike comes at a particularly bad time, when more than 1.7 million children under the age of 5 in Kenya suffer from severe malnutrition. Ethiopia And inside Somalia, the three countries are suffering from a forty-year drought. There is a cost to distribute the peanut bars Another 12 million dollars [environ 11,7 millions d’euros] What will its price be before Ukraine »Calculation mme Rows.

However, donations to the Horn of Africa fall dramatically short of needs. RUTFs do not need to be heated or diluted with water “If children have already reached this advanced form of malnutrition, what is really saving their lives”Adds M.me Rows: “It’s not just peanuts, milk, sugar and oil. It is therapeutic. »

Developed in France twenty-five years ago, this product has proven revolutionary in the treatment of severe wasting – or acute malnutrition – a deadly form of malnutrition, one of the main threats to children’s survival. It allows women and children to survive, testified Dr. Mohamed Amin, a mobile clinic working for the Kenyan Ministry of Health, who travels twice a month to the hamlet of Purabule (North) for consultations.

read more: A visit to drought-affected children at a hospital in Mogadishu

There, two weeks worth of supplements are dispensed. Aribogiru Nakujan was one of the beneficiaries. The youngest of his six children was malnourished. “We are hungry and have nothing to eat”, he told AFP. Beside her, her 6-month-old swallows peanut-based paste. A 16% price increase or 600,000 fewer doses of RUTF would be disastrous not only for the Horn of Africa but for many countries in Africa. “No milk, no meat, no food for them”, emphasizes James Jarzo. So these bars “Save their lives”.

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The world with AFP