In South Sudan, rains and MSF intervention end nutritional crisis

MSF staff will continue to monitor the situation through three MSF health posts in the region. Children will be screened to ensure their condition stays healthy. If the next hunger gap poses problems, MSF will be able to respond very quickly.
Starting from the beginning of November, MSF has been closing its feeding centres in Tanyang, Dirror District in the south east of Sudan (Bieh State, Jonglei, South Sudan). A nutritional survey indicated that malnutrition has decreased significantly over the past weeks and that the emergency has ended. The therapeutic feeding centre (TFC) is already closed, the supplementary feeding centre (SFC) will be closed as soon as possible. "We had to evacuate our team after the closure of the TFC, due to security reasons", Helga Ritter, medical coordinator for MSF, explained. "Once they can return, the SFC will be closed." The two feeding centres were opened last July after a survey in May showed an alarming nutritional situation with an extreme food crisis in the region. The population is semi-nomadic. Half of the population moves together with the cattle at the beginning of the dry season in search of grazing lands and water. Since there are no lakes or rivers in the region, the water points only can provide water for a limited number of people, not for the cattle. Once the rainy season starts - usually around May - the cattle can come back and the land is cultivated. The harvest is due for September. But the past years have been dry and also this year the region experienced late rains. This has exhausted the coping mechanisms of the local population. The nutritional survey in May indicated that there were many moderately malnourished children with very poor prospects. "May was only the beginning of the hunger gap period. Without our help the situation would have deteriorated dramatically since a third of the children were at risk of sliding to severe malnourishment," Helga Ritter says. "To prevent that from happening, and to treat the malnourished children, we started the feeding program." The TFC and SFC were running very well, despite occasional security problems. The nutritional situation improved when it finally started to rain because the cattle came back and crops could grow. That led to the end of the hunger gap period. A nutritional survey in October showed that rates went down from 40% global and 10% severe to a 20% global and 2% severe malnutrition. The October figures constitute normal levels of malnourishment in Sudan. "We will continue to monitor the situation through our staff in three MSF health posts in the region," Helga Ritter said. "They will screen the children to see if their condition stays well. If the next hunger gap again poses problems, we will be able to respond very quickly".