JUBA, South Sudan 15 February 2021 – Today, 14,056 Boxes of ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) were handed over from the People’s Republic of China to UNICEF South Sudan. The country is in the middle of a nutrition crisis with an estimated 313,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in 2021. Without timely help, they will not make it. This donation by China will help to treat 14,056 children with Severe Acute Malnutrition.
The country is also faced with extreme food insecurity. Some 7.2 million people will be in urgent need of food assistance between April and July, affecting children the hardest. RUTF is UNICEF’s most important ‘medicine’ for treating severe acute malnutrition. Over 90 per cent of children receiving treatment in the outpatient therapeutic programmes recover.
“China is very concerned about the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan, including the malnutrition situation of the children,” said Chinese Ambassador Hua Ning. “Over the years, China has provided humanitarian aid to South Sudan through bilateral and multilateral channels. As a staunch supporter of multilateralism, China is working closely with UNICEF and other UN agencies in addressing food insecurity and malnutrition in South Sudan. We hope today’s donation will help to meet the dire needs of the children and their families, and that the continuous peace progress will ease the suffering of the South Sudanese people. We have full confidence in UNICEF and their smooth implementation of the project with their dedication and expertise.”
The boxes of RUTF have just arrived in-country and will soon be dispatched to nutrition centres all over the country. The number of children with SAM is expected to peak in the lean season, around July. That is after the rain has arrived and many roads are impassable. Hence, UNICEF is utilizing the dry season to preposition RUTF when it is easier and less expensive to transport large quantities of supplies. The contribution from China is timely and essential for it to happen.
Acute malnutrition is not only caused by lack of food but also poor food diversity causing vitamin and mineral deficits in children. Illnesses such as malaria and lack of access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene are also large contributors to the high malnutrition rates in South Sudan.
“The RUTF from China will save lives and give children in need a second chance. For that we are grateful,” said Andrea Suley, UNICEF South Sudan Representative a.i. “Yet, no child should have to suffer from malnutrition in the first place and we need to increase the focus on prevention. UNICEF is committed to a cross-sectoral approach addressing all the underlying factors and we are counting on all partners for support.”