x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Foundation tackles Afghan malnutrition

Some 15 million people in the war-torn country could benefit form an agreement signed with an international organisation.

ABU DHABI // Another piece in the Khalifa Foundation's Afghanistan aid programme fell into place on Sunday with an agreement to help women and children with nutritional deficiencies, according to the state news agency, WAM. The Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Charity Foundation signed a deal with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), an international charity aimed at eradicating world malnutrition. The arrangement is expected to benefit 15 million people in the war-torn country.

The foundation's strategy for helping Afghanistan involves financing projects by five partner charities, each addressing a different area of need. Oxfam and Unicef are two of the groups, and Mohammed al Khoury, executive director of the foundation, said this month that similar accords with the World Food Programme and Save the Children were close. After Sunday's agreement he said: "If malnutrition is not tackled now, the country's economic, social and intellectual capacity will be compromised."

GAIN provides financial and technical support to local organisations, supporting the delivery of food and supplements to people most at risk. Sunday's agreement is the beginning of a three-year effort to increase consumption of wheat flour, vegetable oil, ghee and salt by children between six and 24 months old, and to work with local agencies to increase the nutritional value of these foods. A mix of essential vitamins and minerals will be added.

Marc Van Ameringen, the executive director of GAIN, said Afghanistan had the third-highest infant mortality rate (140 per 1,000 live births) in the world, after Sierra Leone and Angola, and was ranked second in the world for maternal mortality, with an average of 1,600 deaths for every 100,000 live births. Another goal of the project is to increase the amount of vitamins and minerals in people's daily diets, and to reduce disabilities related to insufficient nutrients by 30 per cent.

aseaman@thenational.ae