14 août 2022

Children in the Horn of Africa are at danger because anti-famine bars are so expensive

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The price increase, which is a result of the conflict in Ukraine, occurs while more than 1.7 million children in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia suffer from severe malnutrition.

Children are consuming a paste produced from fortified peanut butter under the base of an acacia tree in drought-stricken northern Kenya, preventing them from going hungry. The bars are crucial for young people in Marsabit County, where relief workers are concerned that youngsters are dying in situations of near-starvation. They are simple to use, quick to carry, and easy to store. According to James Jarso of the non-profit organization World Vision, "there will be more fatalities very soon" if there is a scarcity of the priceless meal, which is calorie-dense, vitamin-rich, and high in necessary minerals.

However, the cost of these RUTF (Ready to Use Therapeutic Food) ready-to-use pasta products is rapidly increasing. The most popular brand is Plumpy'Nut from the French business Nutriset. UNICEF, which purchases over 80% of the global supply, is concerned that it has grown more challenging to make and get them since the beginning of the crisis in Ukraine in late February.

The invasion of Russia has had an impact on the cost and availability of commodities, as well as gasoline prices and supply chains that have already been impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak. Ukraine is a significant supplier of sunflower oil, wheat, and other cereals. As a result, the cost of the three main components of RUTFs—peanuts, vegetable oils, and milk powder—has increased, according to Christiane Rudert, a nutrition advisor at UNICEF's East Africa office. She claims that due to the increased cost of petroleum, even red and white plastic packing has become more expensive, rare, and expensive to ship.

In a statement to AFP, Nutriset, whose Plumpy'Nut products helped 9.7 million youngsters last year, said it had raised the price of its nutrition bars twice since May 2021 by 23%.

A ground-breaking product
The price increase occurs at the worst possible time, as more than 1.7 million children under the age of five in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia—three nations affected by the worst drought in forty years—suffer from some type of acute malnutrition. According to Ms. Rudert's calculations, distributing the peanut butter bars will cost "$12 million more [approximately €11.7 million] than it would have cost before Ukraine."

However, donations for the Horn of Africa remain far short of what is required. RUTFs, which may be ingested without being cooked or diluted with water, are "Rudert continues, "It's not only peanuts, milk, sugar, and oil. It's actually the life-saver for children when they have already reached this late level of malnutrition. It is healing."

The treatment for severe wasting, or severe acute malnutrition, the most lethal type of undernutrition and one of the biggest hazards to a child's life, was developed 25 years ago in France. According to Dr. Mohamed Amin, who works for the Kenyan Ministry of Health and conducts mobile clinic consultations twice a month in the northern hamlet of Purapul, it helps mothers and children survive.

There are distributed enough vitamins to last for two weeks. One of the winners is Aripokiru Nakujan. Her youngest child, one of six, is underweight. We don't have anything to eat, and we're starving, she told AFP. Her six-month-old child, who is standing next to her, eats the peanut paste. A 16 percent price increase, or 600,000 fewer doses of RUTF, would be terrible for many other African nations in addition to the Horn of Africa. James Jarso adamantly states, "There is no milk, no meat, and no sustenance for them." These bars so "save their lives."

 

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