KATHMANDU, NEPAL – In response to the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, the Micronutrient Initiative, through UNICEF and other partners, is supporting emergency efforts to ensure vulnerable children have access to improved nutrition.
The Government of Nepal has started to distribute multiple micronutrient powder (MMNP) sachets to children in the 14 affected districts to enhance the nutritional content of the meals provided to the children.
MI’s contribution will enable the procurement of 5.4 million MMNP sachets, which will be provided to approximately 45,000 children between 6 months and 5 years of age in 14 affected districts.
Each child will receive a total of 120 sachets of MMNPs over two rounds of distribution, at an interval of six months. The consumption of the MMNPs will help prevent micronutrient deficiencies, including iron deficiency anaemia, and will help to strengthen children’s immune systems.
In addition, counselling on optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices, particularly for children up to two years of age, will also be undertaken by the government.
Approximately 30 per cent of Nepalese children below the age of 5 are underweight, an estimated 37 per cent are stunted, and around 46 per cent are anaemic.
Following the disruption caused by the earthquake, the threat of micronutrient deficiencies and undernutrition rates rising among children looms large. The districts that bore the maximum brunt of the tragedy include Dolakha, Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Dhading, Ramechhap, Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Makawanpur, Kavre, Sindhuli and Okhaldhunga, located in the central and western region of the country.
Infrastructure and livelihoods have been severely affected. As is often known to happen with all tragedies of such magnitude, vulnerable children from poorer communities are at the greatest risk of deprivation and suffering. Given the scale of the tragedy, it will take time before these children can regain access to a variety of natural foods, and the emergency MMNPs are aimed to help fill the gap in the short term.
MI’s contribution is being provided through UNICEF, which will work closely with the Nepal government, and other partners to ensure timely procurement and distribution. MI will also be involved in the monitoring and supervision of the MMNP distribution. Being a committed and long-standing partner, MI stands alongside the Government of Nepal in its hour of need.