“The situation in the entire country is still alarming”

by Karin Wilke/SRA,  2010/09/06

Since the middle of the year, nutritionist Karin Wilke has been working for humedica in Kollo in the West African state of Niger. Together with the team on site, she makes every effort in order to fight the acute famine in the country. Last week, a first information campaign was organised in Kollo in order to explain about the distribution and the type of additional food that is provided to the population.

“The extent of the problem of undernutrition in the entire country is still alarming. The distribution of additional food alone is not enough to change the situation. Therefore it is the more important to provide information and to tell the people what they need to do in order to fight undernutrition and the misery caused by it.

Supported by the Federal Foreign Office of the Republic of Germany, last week our humedica team organised a first information campaign focussing on the distribution of additional food in the district of Kollo. With this measure we intend to increase awareness of the meaning and the problem of undernutrition among the authorities and local and traditional leaders.

Since the beginning of July, the humedica nutrition programme has already reached 1,000 undernourished children, pregnant and nursing women. But still, there are many families who do not make use of our food distributions.

High-ranking leaders from the district of Kollo showed substantial interest in the information campaign run by the humedica team. Photo: humedica

However, our objective is to make as many people as possible take part in our nutrition programme. Therefore we contacted the authorities of the district of Kollo, in order to draw attention to our work on an official level.

After the Prefect of Kollo had invited them personally, twenty high-ranking persons from the district agreed to take part in our information campaign. Among them were Mayors as well as the Village Elders or their representatives.

As they are the ones in charge in the village communities and the ones who make all the decisions concerning the communities, it was exactly those persons who we needed to convince of and to win over for our cause. They are close to the population; they know people’s problems.

Besides providing them with information about the distribution and types of additional food, we also wanted to give the participants an opportunity to inform themselves further and to exchange experiences. During animated conversations first useful suggestions arose about how dependency of imported food could be prevented to the greatest extent possible and how the use of local products could be enhanced.

Karin Wilke shows individual components of the additional food that is distributed to the starving population in Niger. Photo: humedica

We attracted particular interest when informing the participants about the complications caused by chronic undernutrition: marasmus and kwashiorkor are two examples of deficiency diseases caused by undernutrition. If children suffer from marasmus, their bodies dehydrate. Children suffering from kwashiorkor have bloated bellies and extremities due to water retentions.

We are planning to run another information campaign within a few weeks. By means of informing about food hygiene, nutrients contained in food and their functions for the human body, we intend to increase awareness and knowledge even further in order to fight undernutrition and eventually leave a sufficient provision with food to the local population itself.

This is the humedica team’s desire and it is not only utopia.
Therefore we would like to ask you to support our information measures. We are convinced that dependency of imported additional food can eventually result in self-sufficiency.

Kind regards from Kollo

Karin Wilke”

Please also fight the famine in Niger by means of donating via our online form or to the account below:
      humedica e.V.
      Donation reference “Famine Niger
      Account 47 47
      Bank Code 734 500 00
      Sparkasse Kaufbeuren

You can also send a text message containing the reference DOC to +49 8 11 90 and make a donation of 5 euros to fight the famine in Niger. 4.83 euros of this amount will be directly channelled into the humedica project work. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

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