In the heart of Kasai-Oriental province, Miabi territory experienced the worst atrocities during clashes between Kamuina Nsapu militia and security forces. Located 35 km from the city of Mbuji-Mayi, the Miabi area comprises 14 health areas, including Boya I, which was abandoned by its inhabitants during the clashes. Entire populations sought refuge far from all basic social services and children were exposed to multiple diseases.
As peace progressively returned to the territory, communities gradually returned to their villages. Interventions were carried out by UNICEF to support their resettlement: the health centre was refurbished and equipped, hygienic latrines were built, a water source was put in and cases of severe acute malnutrition were treated.
At first sight, the situation seems to be restored in Boya I. Little Tshiela, whom I meet in front of the family home is a good example.
For months, Tshiela’s mother did not have enough food to feed her three children. Shiela quickly fell ill and developed severe acute malnutrition. Fortunately, when the health centre returned to service, Shiela was treated. After three weeks of nutritional rehabilitation based on ready-to-use therapeutic foods, Shiela was already much improved. Now, she is eating well and playing again like other children her age!
A few meters from Shiela’s house, I meet a young dad sitting with two young children on his lap. The story he tells me is very different from Shiela’s.
With a look of despondency, Muya explains that his two youngest children are malnourished. They had been treated but, for the past two months their health had once again deteriorated. Muya tells us that his wife is expecting their fifth child. For this baby, the young father promises to follow good infant and young child feeding practices from birth: breastfeeding within one hour of delivery, exclusive breastfeeding for up to 6 months, complimentary feeding with vitamin supplements etc. All he wants is to “see his children in good health.”
“The children are once again starting to suffer”, explains Sylvain, nurse at the Boya I health centre. “There is a serious problem as currently we have no more nutritional inputs. We have no more therapeutic milk nor ready-to-use nutrients.”
To illustrate this situation, Sylvain points out a mother sat in front of the health centre doors with her son, Kalonji, in her arms. Sylvain tells us that the young child is malnourished but that he cannot treat him due to lack of inputs. Kalonji’s mother will have to travel several kilometres to reach a neighbouring health area with enough inputs to treat her son.
More info about malnutrition in Kasai:
Typhaine Daems est Volontaire des Nations Unies, chargée de communication digitale à l’UNICEF RDC. Elle est s'occupe tout particulièrement de la gestion des réseaux sociaux et du blog.
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