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Jun 3, 2012

Chad - UNICEF Looking Beyond Immediate Famine Aid to Long-Term Solutions

UNICEF Encourages Exclusive Breastfeeding and Growing More Vegetables in the Wadis as Long-Term Solutions to Malnutrition in Chad.

UNICEF is educating women in Chad about the
importance of exclusive breastfeeding as one
long-term solution to chronic child malnutrition.
In this photo Fatimé Hassan with her four month
old baby, Gazala, who is being exclusively breastfed.
Photo: United Nations Multimedia.
The children of Chad are suffering from chronic malnutrition. According to UNICEF this is not an immediate cause of current famine conditions in the Sahel region.  Rather, it is part of a longer term problem caused by the fact that Chad has one of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world.  Only three in every 100 women exclusively breastfeed their babies.  

UNICEF estimates that 13% of all deaths among children under age five could be prevented if the women of Chad adopted exclusive breastfeeding.  This is the practice of feeding only breast milk to a baby - no solid food.  

UNICEF has partnered with Médecins du Monde to provide general education on the benefits of breastfeeding as part of a long-term solution to malnutrition in Chad.  Before the age of five, a large percentage of children in Chad are stunted by illnesses caused by unsafe water.  Adopting exclusive breastfeeding and promoting breastfeeding in general would help all children from birth to age five.  Initially, breast milk provides the proper nutrients to babies and in the long-term it helps to develop a child's immune system.  Strong immune systems give toddlers a stronger defense against illness. 

UNICEF is also working to educate communities in Chad on the importance of growing and eating fresh vegetables.  Throughout Chad there are small wadis that could be farmed, even during periods of drought.  UNICEF is providing education on how and what vegetables to grow.  Including vegetables in the diets of the people of Chad provides a wider range of nutrients.  The currently diet is almost exclusively grains such as millet mixed with vegetable oil. 

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About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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