The political unrest and violence in Yemen are not the only battles ongoing in the impoverished country. The smallest children in Yemen have their own struggle against deadly malnutrition. Yemen has one of the highest child malnutrition rates in the world.
That is why three UNICEF trucks with life-saving plumpynut arrived in Sa'ada governorate in Northern Yemen last week. Plumpynut is a special peanut paste which can give small children the nutrition they need to survive.
A convoy of three trucks loaded with UNICEF emergency supplies funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID), makes it through to Sa’ada on 19 May 2011 (Mohammed Al-Asaadi/UNICEF)
Children who lack the right foods early in life can suffer lasting physical or mental damage. They may even perish. If enough plumpynut were in Yemen or other needy countries, you could prevent many deaths related to malnutrition. Plumpynut comes in a package and requires no refrigeration or cooking, so it's fairly easy to distribute.
UNICEF says the plumpynut and other supplies "will cover the required treatment of 3,000 children under the age of five suffering severe acute malnutrition. This figure represents about six percent of the total number of severely malnourished children in Sa’ada."
Also, UNICEF reports that a nutritional survey conducted in 2010 showed about 45 percent of children under the age of five are acutely malnourished in some districts of Sa'ada. More investment in plumpynut and other interventions is needed from the international community to save these children.
Geert Cappelaere, head of UNICEF Yemen, says, “The arrival of the convoy is a breakthrough for enhancing humanitarian space and ultimately for delivering the urgent assistance all children in conflict-affected Sa’ada require."
Sa'ada has seen years of conflict between the government and the Al-Houthi rebels. A lasting peace treaty is desperately needed. There has to be a united front against the worst enemy—hunger.
Cappeleare warns, "The supplies will last for one to three months, so we must make sure a continual pipeline of life-saving supplies is secured.” Much more work needs to be done to enhance the lives of children in Sa'ada and other governorates of Yemen. This is an area where we can take action now.
For more information visit UNICEF.