Malnutrition at emergency levels in Pinga Health Zone, North Kivu, DRC

Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo, 07 May, 2008.
Malnutrition is at emergency levels in the Pinga health zone in
northwestern Masisi Territory, North Kivu, DRC. A UNICEF supported
nutritional survey done by international NGO COOPI (Cooperazione
Internazionale) has shown that the Global Acute Malnutrition rate in
Pinga is 17.1% – far surpassing the emergency global acute malnutrition
threshold of 10% – indicating that thousands of children in the area
are at an elevated risk for their survival.

The high levels of malnutrition are a result of regular clashes
between different armed groups. Frequent fighting since December 2006
has interrupted farming reducing the supply of food to the population,
hindered access to clean drinking water, destroyed health service
infrastructure, precipitated widespread looting of medicine and
material, and limited new nutritional interventions from being

In response, UNICEF with partners COOPI and 8th CEPAC have
recently opened an emergency therapeutic feeding center for severely
malnourished children in the Pinga town general hospital and three
emergency supplementary feeding centers for moderately malnourished
children in more remote villages. Since operations began over one week
ago 104 malnourished children have started treatment. UNICEF partners
on the ground are sensitizing the population about the existence of the
feeding centers and encouraging all families with malnourished children
to seek treatment. Community-based management of malnutrition
activities are being planned in order to rapidly increase assistance
throughout the health zone.

While UNICEF continues to closely monitor and respond to the
malnutrition situation in the North Kivu emergency it is concerned that
current global food shortages and higher food prices will further
exacerbate malnutrition levels throughout the DRC.

UNICEF reminds that the consequences of ongoing conflict and
instability in eastern DRC, such as acute malnutrition, continue to
make it one of the worst places in the world to be a child. In order to
respect the fundamental rights of Congolese children to survive and
realize their potential UNICEF advocates for sustainable peace and
stability in the eastern DRC.

Malnutrition in the DRC

Malnutrition remains one of the main factors associated with the
high child morbidity and mortality rates in the DRC. Hundreds of
thousands of children have died due to malnutrition in the DRC over the
past 12 years. Malnutrition often prevents children from reaching their
full physical and mental potential. Children that stay in a prolonged
state of malnourishment experience delayed physical growth and motor
development, a lower IQ, greater behavioral problems, deficient social
skills, and are more susceptible to contracting other diseases.


UNICEF has mounted one of its largest emergency humanitarian
operations in the world in the DRC. UNICEF continues to respond to the
North Kivu internal displacement emergency in the health, nutrition,
education, child protection, sexual violence, emergency shelter and
essential household items, and water, sanitation and hygiene sectors.
In the North Kivu emergency UNICEF and its network of operational
partners have reached around 1,000,000 people with emergency life
saving assistance.

For further information please contact:

Jaya Murthy, UNICEF Goma, +243 81 230 5933,

Joyce Brandful, UNICEF Kinshasa +243 81 884 6747,

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