RUTF Shortages in Nigeria

Nigeria: Owning Up to Food Insecurity in the North

This is an excerpt from an article that was originally published on on June 28, 2012. 

“UNICEF runs the bulk of the OTP sites in Nigeria, and provides the nutrition-rich Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) central to the CMAM programme. Mothers bring their children for weekly check-ups to the government-owned health centres, where they receive antibiotics and health lectures. But it is the 8-week course of high-energy RUTF that changes the fortunes of their children, and when IRIN visited Gurjiya, none was available.

Malnutrition has always been here [in the north], but it wasn’t seen by duty-bearers as a critical issue, people took it for granted … Nigeria is rich, it has the resources, so it’s just willingness

There have been sporadic shortages throughout this year, with UNICEF, Save the Children, and Action Against Hunger – partners in the European Union ECHO-funded programme – borrowing from among each other to try and provide a level of service. There had been a cumulative total of five weeks of low RUTF stocks, and Bello was worried: “Without RUTF there is no CMAM.”

She said some women with too far to walk had to borrow the 30 US cents for a motorbike taxi to the health centre, or had other children at home to take care of. If the shortages persisted, they would stop coming: “It is really affecting this programme.”

In the first five months of this year, 69,000 children were enrolled in CMAM in 11 northern states. The largest number by far – 19,000 children – are in Katsina, a city which 300 years ago was at the heart of commerce in the north. According to one aid worker, the extent of the needs means even more sites could be opened in the state, “but we’d be overwhelmed… The challenge is even bigger than we thought.”

Stanley Chitekwe, UNICEF’s chief of nutrition, says need is squeezing supplies. ‘Monthly consumption is increasing and the [RUTF] pipeline is becoming very sensitive. We’re not even managing with buffer stocks, whatever comes we push to the states.'”

Read this article in its entirety, here.

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