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Niger: European Union and UNICEF support the fight against chronic maluntrition in Niger

Source: UN Children's Fund
Country: Niger

Niamey (Niger), 6 May 2013 – On Monday, the European Union and UNICEF signed a financial agreement worth 9.5 million euro (6.2 billion CFA Francs) to fight against child malnutrition in Niger. This four-year project will be part of the fast track initiative for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Niger (Initiative d’accélération des Objectifs du millénaire pour le développement au Niger, IAOMD). The project will be implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Health and local communities in eight departments of Tahoua, Maradi and Zinder regions. It will target 801.000 children and 844.000 women of child-bearing age living in municipalities with high rates of chronic malnutrition.

Poor nutrition is one of the most critical and unnecessary tragedy of our time. Children become victims of a vicious circle where poverty, illness, inadequate nutrition and absence of drinkable water, sanitation and hygiene provide them with least opportunities for a good start in life. In Niger, chronic malnutrition affects nearly one in two children and represents a major challenge to national development considering the large vulnerable population.

"The first 1.000 days, between conception and the age of 2, are the most critical period for children’s physical and mental growth, ” said Guido Cornale, Unicef Niger Representative,. “We must ensure that children are protected from malnutrition so that they can realize their rights to survival and development and contribute to the growth of human capital in the country. In this regard, the European Union is providing us with the means of action”.

The European Union also recognizes the benefits of a multisectoral and integrated response to child needs and the importance to expand it at its most. “Niger has recognized the problem and it is committed to fight against. We are determined to mobilize all mechanisms at our disposal to support the country in its effort to improve child nutrition and thus enhance the resilience of the population”, said Ambassador Hans-Peter Schadek, Chief of the EU’s Delegation to Niger. “These funding, which exceed our initial 10thEuropean Development Fund, showcases a tangible example”, the Ambassador added.

The EU funding will focus on activities already experimented in Niger such as community mobilization and behavior change on maternal and infant nutrition; essential family practices, including birth spacing; nutrition education; market gardening; sanitation, hygiene and strengthening of health services. It will also include the distribution of micronutrient supplementation and adequate food complements, improve access to water, and promote growth at community level. Health services will be sustained and strengthened in order to provide quality pre-natal and post-natal care.

For more information please contact:
Anne Boher, UNICEF Niger.
Tel.: +227 96962159;
Email: aboher@unicef.org

Maïtourare Boulama, Délégation UE, Niger.
Tel.: +227 20732773 ;
Email: Mahamadou-maitourare.boulama@ec.europa.eu

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