A race against time for fatchima

It’s the lean season in Niger – the time before the harvest when food is short and prices are high. People like Maria simply can’t afford to feed their children. Worse still, the promised harvest may never arrive.

Across the region, the rains don’t come when they used to. Droughts are now more frequent and long-lasting – putting the lives of children like fourteen-month-old Fatchima at risk.

Maria was desperately worried when Fatchima fell ill with a fever and diarrhea. She carried her to the nearest health centre, but Fatchima was found to be so ill that she was taken on the back of a motorbike to the hospital where Save the Children treats severely malnourished children. It was a race against time to save her life.

Normally, Maria starts the day by pounding millet in a wooden bowl. She prepares a kind of porridge made of millet. She gets it ready now although it will be eaten in the evening because she works all day tending a farmer’s crops. Fatchima is usually on her back as she works.

Maria does hard physical work in the fields then comes home and eats with her family. In good times, they eat spaghetti. When food and money is short, they only have millet. It’s filling, but on its own it doesn’t contain all the vitamins and minerals a growing child like Fatchima needs during the first 1000 days of life.

How you're saving children from malnutrition

Your ongoing support ensures that Save the Children's teams on the ground have what they need to combat malnutrition in all its forms.

CH140192 Fatchima Day 4

We care for mothers and babies

We support families with young children to access quality nutrition services delivered through our community health programmes by health workers and volunteers in the community.

We train community health workers

to diagnose and treat common childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria. Mobile health teams travel to hard to reach and remote places so that there are no long journeys to hospitals to receive treatment, which is often already too late. Problems are detected earlier, and children can be treated immediately.

We treat malnourished children

Children with acute malnutrition and medical complications are admitted to our inpatient care at a stabilisation centre. Here they are given therapeutic milk and medication to treat their illnesses. Children who are less severe malnourished are given ready-to-use therapeutic foods or other nutrient-dense foods.

We improve mothers and babies’ diets

We work with mothers to improve their nutrient intake by giving iron and folic acid supplements during pregnancy and making sure they are well-fed and healthy so that they have a healthy pregnancy and are able to produce breastmilk to feed their babies

We improve water and sanitation facilities

Malnourished children are particularly at risk of contracting waterborne diseases and dying from acute watery diarrhoea, and these diseases can lead to children becoming malnourished, so we work to improve the facilities within communities so that people can drink clean water, use safe toilets and are able to wash their hands to prevent disease.

Fatchima is now thriving

Thanks to your ongoing support, malnourished children like Fatchima will get the vital food and nutrients they so desperately need to survive.