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NZ famine relief fund buys therapeutic food for starving South Sudanese kids

By Laura Walters, stuff.co.nz

11 days ago   Article ID# 4128479
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UNICEF New Zealand

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND (stuff.co.nz) - The government has pledged $250,000 to buy Plumpy Nut — an aptly-named, special food that will save children from starvation.

Last month, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand would provide $3 million to support emergency famine relief and prevention efforts in Africa and Yemen.

Unicef NZ, which has a partnership with Stuff, will receive $250,000, which the charity will match, to provide the ready-to-use therapeutic food to malnourished children in South Sudan.

That's six-weeks worth of the protein-rich supplement for between 3000 and 4000 starving children.

Unicef NZ international developments manager Rose Fenton refers to Plumpy Nut as "miracle food".

The former nurse used the food to help malnourished children in Papua New Guinea and advocates its use in South Sudan and other nations facing famine. She said Plumpy Nut was a lot like peanut butter, and contained extra vitamins and minerals. The paste-like food was high in calories and protein — something that was hard to come by during famine.

Fenton said the food, which didn't need any water added, was developed by a French man. The idea came to him while he spread Nutella on his toast one morning. It was used like a kick-starter food to help severely malnourished children come back from the brink of starvation. It was designed to be eaten in conjunction with other food.

Unicef NZ was already distributing Plumpy Nut in South Sudan and the additional funds would help further the efforts. The therapeutic food was manufactured in Africa. Fenton said children loved the sweet food and nut allergies didn't seem to be a problem in the countries where Unicef worked.

In March, McCully said more than 20 million people were currently facing famine conditions or severe food shortages across the Greater Horn of Africa, Nigeria, and Yemen.

"Droughts in some of these areas have been compounded by conflict and insecurity, giving rise to a very serious humanitarian situation," he said.

The UN has referred to the food shortage situation as "the worst humanitarian disaster since the end of World War II".

New Zealand's relief package included $1m to the World Food Programme for South Sudan, $500,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross for Yemen, $500,000 to the International Committee of the Red Cross for North-east Nigeria, and $1m to accredited New Zealand humanitarian organisations. As an NZ Disaster Relief Partnership-accredited organisation, Unicef received its $250,000 from that allocation.

Unicef NZ spokesman Lachlan Forsyth said the severely malnourished included 1.4 million children. There was a misconception that famine was common but this was only the second famine to strike in the past 17 years, Forsyth said. The good thing about famine was that it was preventable; the bad thing was that it took money and resources to stop, he said.

Unicef is assisting children and families affected by malnutrition by providing food, shelter, medical assistance and education.

Copyright 2017 stuff.co.nz   (Copyright Terms)
Updated 11 days ago   Article ID# 4128479

UNICEF New Zealand    Visit Website

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