Therapeutic foods like PlumpyNut are saving the lives of 22,000 malnourished children every year in Burundi. © UNICEF/BRDA2012-00019/Krzysiek
Johannes Wedenig, UNICEF Rep in Burundi, visited UNICEF UK's London office last week and gave a moving talk about the problems facing this central African nation. Ravaged by civil war, Burundi is still trying to get back on its feet since the war ended in 2005 with over 300,000 killed.
Right now, Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, with 4 in 5 people living on less than 80p a day. During the ten years of war, its GDP fell by 33%. Not surprisingly, it has one of the highest rates in the world of stunting and malnutrition, with nearly 60% of its child population suffering from stunting. Johannes told us that stunting is so commonplace in Burundi that many people don't realise it's happening, and consider that Burundians are just naturally shorter than their neighbours.
UNICEF is doing its bit to tackle the problems in Burundi. We're supporting community-based nanagement of acute malnutrition and this is now operational in 82% of provinces (an increase of 9% since 2005). This is saving the lives of over 22,000 malnourished children each year. Vitamin A supplements reach 83-87% of children aged 5-49 months, and more than 87% of children aged 1-14 years were de-wormed during the 2011 Mother and Child Health Week campaigns.
We are also working in partnership with the Burundian Government to increase access to drinking water and promote hygienic practices; to encourage more children to enrol and complete primary education; to strengthen child protection; and to increase access to vaccinations against diseases such as measles, tetanus and hepatitis B.
Rose Virden works in the Public Affairs Team at UNICEF UK