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WFP Assessment Mission

Children Posing next to a flag made out of the sacks used by WFP to drop food in Koch, upper Nile

A three month assessment mission to Bahr El Gazal Region in Southern Sudan was undertaken by WFP between August and November 1998. The main findings were as follows.

  1. Nutrition surveys revealed a highly variable situation. Some locations were showing an improved nutritional status of their registered programme participants leading to anticipation of selective feeding programme closure. For example, global malnutrition rates in Yirol decreased from 26% in May to 10.9% in September. This has been the result not only of increased quantities of food being delivered into the region by WFP but also of the opening of numerous selective feeding programes. However, others areas still experienced alarmingly high levels of global malnutrition (21.1% severe malnutrition around Malualkon) so that agencies were gearing up to commence selective feeding programme support.
  2. The current food basket energy level must be increased from 1900 kcals per capita to the standard 2100 to ensure adequacy for populations that have no other food resources. Distribution alternatives may be implemented at seventy five and fifty percent levels depending on what other food sources are available to those recipients.
  3. The commodities distributed in the food basket (a grain, pulse, oil, blended food and iodised salt) are well accepted by the population. Whole grains were generally an expressed preference over milled grain. Reasons given were the better long-term keeping properties of grain, especially if air-dropped onto wet ground. Another reason was that women felt better able to manage/budget the quantity required for a days consumption as, if given in flour, they would tend to prepare larger quantities while grain which needed to be pounded would be prepared in smaller quantities and therefore budgeted to last longer. Other advantages were that various products at the pounding stages were utilised. For example, the chaff of maize may be set aside and used for brewing or reserved for longer term if food shortages are anticipated. Appropriate preparation methods for newly introduced commodities such as brown lentils, and potentially bulgur wheat in the coming year, need to be communicated to recipients in order that essential nutrients are not lost. Proper preparation also means less work and fuel savings. Food preparation methods employed for brown lentils have been ill-advised. Women were soaking the lentils, rubbing off the skins and discarding them , thus throwing away valuable vitamins and minerals. Discussions with women also indicated that they did not know what bulgur wheat was or how to prepare it. Although the taste should be well accepted (it is similar to sorghum) preparation methods should reflect the fact that it has a short cooking time. Food monitors should explain food preparation methods to representatives of the local relief committees. These representatives should then discuss these matters with women at the distribution points.
  4. There have been no reports of micro-nutrient deficiency disease. This is theorised as being due to the consumption of wild foods collected and prepared, especially during times of great hunger. The contribution of these foods has been under-estimated and further information is needed on their uses and nutrient analysis to better document their importance.
  5. Careful attention may be needed at static relief sites to ensure that nutrient deficiencies do not develop as a result of dependence on too little dietary variation. Certain sites such as Ajiep, Thikthou, etc have had a magnet effect for people as food has been distributed. The longer displaced populations remain in these locations, there will be fewer wild food resources for all to gather and greater dependence on a narrow range of distributed foods. Fortified cereals and increased rations of blended foods, may be warranted for these populations. The situation needs careful monitoring.
  6. The consistent use of a single formulation of UNIMIX within OLS should be discussed. It is confusing to have multiple formulations being referred to by the same name.

Ref:

Nutrition Assessment Mission Sudan EMOP 5826.01, WFP Southern Sudan, A. Hudacek, Nov. 98. E-mail: annhdacek@excite.com

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Reference this page

WFP Assessment Mission. Field Exchange 6, February 1999. p28. www.ennonline.net/fex/6/mission