A woman breastfeeds her child beside a poster that promotes exclusive breastfeeding, in the Rapadama Traditional Health Centre, in the village of Rapadama, Plateau-Central Region.
In March 2012, Burkina Fasos rate of child mortality is the third highest in the world, the result of preventable or treatable conditions, including malnutrition. The country is one of eight in the Sahel region also including Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and the northern parts of Cameroon, Nigeria and Senegal facing a nutrition crisis that now affects over 15 million people. Unless reached with appropriate treatment and prevention programmes, more than 1 million under-five children are at risk of dying from nutrition-related illnesses. The current crisis is the result of repeated drought-related food shortages, from which people have insufficient time to recover before being again affected. In turn, these shocks are exacerbated by chronic stunting, high rates of poverty and illiteracy and inadequate social infrastructure, including for basic child and maternal care. In Burkina Faso, nearly 100,000 under-five children are at risk of becoming severely malnourished. UNICEF requires US$120 million to fund its Sahel emergency response in 2012, of which only 32 per cent has been received to date. The European Union (EU) is one of the largest international donors to UNICEF nutrition programmes in the Sahel and in other regions. Each month, over 1,600 UNICEF-supported health facilities throughout Burkina Faso are providing treatment to approximately 4,000 children many undergoing repeat visits suffering from severe acute malnutrition; an estimated 100,000 children will receive assistance this year. Support includes the provision of ready-to-use therapeutic food (a high-protein, high-energy peanut-based packaged paste for malnourished children that does not require cooking or handling). To defend malnourished children from further complications, UNICEF-supported intervention