Political insecurity has exacerbated the already high malnutrition rates, making Burundi the African country with the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in children under 5, especially among children aged 6 to 23 months. Post-election violence, scarce rainfall, donor fatigue, low involvement by the Ministry of Health and the growing population all contribute to the high malnutrition levels. Additionally, over 128,000 people are reliant on food assistance and food prices are extremely high in some areas.
International Medical Corps operates a variety of nutrition programs in Burundi. Working with the Ministry of Health, we train local staff to help us provide a mix of supplemental and therapeutic feeding programs for several thousand undernourished and malnourished children. A second program takes a preventative approach. We focus on keeping children under the age of two healthy by training mothers and then sending them into the broader community to teach healthy nutrition practices to their peers. The Mother Care Group approach, which employs local women, is especially effective because it focuses on behavior change and peer-to-peer communication aimed at stopping malnutrition before it takes hold.