Malnutrition takes a serious toll on children living in Chad. The vast West African nation features a fertile south and a cut off desert north. When rains do not fall or they fall too much crops are destroyed. Poor road systems make it very hard to get food into the North. In fact, the World Food Programme has to travel through Sudan and the troubled Darfur region to get food to people at risk in the north. That is an easier option that simply driving food from southern Chad or Nigeria to the south-west.
An estimated 4.2 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance in Chad, says the UN. Only 36% of the $510 million need to respond to the crisis has been funded as of the middle of this year. Much of the problems stem from insecurity in neighboring countries, such as Sudan and the Central African Republic, that forces people to seek refuge in Chad.
A new photo series (Disclaimer: photographs may be emotionally distressing to some viewers) from photographer Pep Bonet (seen right) shows attempts by one hospital in Chad to treat children with malnutrition. Saint Joseph’s hospital in Bebedjia must treat children who many times arrive at their most vulnerable. He opens by describing the problems faced by Chad that range from food insecurity, poor health services and the increasing refugee population.
Despite the good economic results achieved during the last decade, two-thirds of the population still live in absolute poverty. In addition, limited health coverage and the poor quality of health care services foster child mortality levels.
The Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) lists Chad as a country suffering from a severe humanitarian crisis. Malnutrition levels are on the rise in parts of Chad and increasing at worring rates among girls under five years old, warns the International Medical Corps.
“These severe acute malnutrition figures are extremely worrying, even for a region that regularly experiences food insecurity,” said Esther Busquet, International Medical Corps Roving Nutrition Advisor for the Sahel. “We are particularly concerned for the health of young girls, who appear to be especially badly affected.”