One of the largest Christian relief and development organizations in the world has airlifted 130 tons of UNIMIX flour to Niger, to help combat the current food crisis that is causing widespread hunger across the country.
According to World Vision International, 65 metric tons of vitamin-packed UNIMIX were flown on a massive DAS airplane from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, to Niger on Aug. 18 and another 65 metric tons were shipped on Aug. 20.
Reports indicate that up to 3.6 million citizens of the countrys 12 million are at risk of hunger, after locust swarms destroyed crops equivalent to 15 percent of Nigers average cereal production and almost 40 percent of the livestock fodder.
"The severe food crisis in Niger has resulted from drought and locusts and emanates from the vulnerability of communities, Eleanor Monbiot, the World Vision Africa Acting Relief Director said in a released statement.
Monbiot said many children had become malnourished, and the UNIMIX is vital to helping them regain their health.
UNIMIX is a high-protein, high-nutrition, and high-energy flour made from the combination of maize, soy bean meal, bean, sugar, oil, and essential vitamins.
The high-protein basic content of UNIMIX is mixed with a five percent sugar content, which provides high energy; vegetable oil, which adds energy as well; [and] a whole list of vitamins and essentials prescribed by UNICEF for good health," explains Randy Strash, Strategy Director for Emergency Response /Disaster Communication for World Vision.
"Add all the ingredients together and what we get is a very nutritionally dense cereal product that makes good porridge. This is one of the interventions use for food crisis.
According to the United Nations, around 800,000 children in Niger are suffering from hunger, including 150,000 who are showing signs of severe malnutrition.
UNIMIXs high density in protein, energy, and nutrition allow children to gain weight by just eating two meals a day, although World Vision encourages children to eat five meals a day.
The issue of two meals a day is pertinent because many children in Niger only eat two times a day if their parents have to work in the field and cannot prepare food while working. Therefore, World Visions distribution of UNIMIX also allow parents to feed their children throughout the day.
The two shipment of UNIMIX, each 65 tons, is expected to feed 1700 children for 5 months.
Meanwhile, World Vision is currently carrying out food distributions and nutritional programs in the badly-affected districts of Maradi and Zinder, where reports indicate malnutrition and mortality rates are critically high among children under five.
In three districts of Zinder (Mirriah North, Goure and Tirmini), World Vision serves as the lead agency for general food distribution. Among those areas, the international agency is operating an outpatient therapeutic feeding program for up to 5,000 moderately malnourished children under-five without medical complications.
World Vision is also the lead agency distributing WFP (World Food Program) food in Maradi region.
During August and September, World Visioin plans to distribute 4,328 metric tons of food in partnership with WFP to 165,000 beneficiaries in the Maradi and Zinder regions.