Facing food insecurity
Egypte, 21 lives with her husband and daughter, Madeleine, who is nearly two. Egypte doesn’t work. Her husband supports the household by selling phone credits on the street, earning $1 a day.
Since December 2022, their daughter Madeleine has been receiving rations of Plumpy’Nut (food bars formulated for the nutritional rehabilitation of severely malnourished children and adults) from UNICEF at the therapeutic nutrition center at Notre-Dame-des-Apôtre hospital in N'Djamena.
To complement UNICEF's support, HI provides malnourished children with stimulation therapy sessions. The therapy comprises seven sessions designed to stimulate the psychomotor skills and promote growth of children who have been severely affected by malnutrition.
The effects of stimulation therapy
Madeleine has started stimulation therapy sessions with HI’s physical therapist, Ferdinand. The activities are always fun. Ferdinand is teaching Madeleine critical skills, such as walking with the help of a stroller and communicating using pictures pasted on the wall. Egypte, who attends the sessions, has seen her daughter's progress:
"Before, she didn't play much. She sat in a corner and didn’t move from it. Now she plays with her little friends and with me. She's become very sociable!”
Ferdinand, the physical therapist, adds:
"With the help of stimulation therapy, she has gained strength and is walking better and more confidently. At first, she was very reserved, but now she is much more sure of herself.”
Egypte understands the importance of play in stimulating her child. She assures us that she will make sure to play with Madeleine at home to help her develop.
What is stimulation therapy?
Severe malnutrition delays the growth and development of infants and toddlers. These developmental delays can lead to irreversible disabilities if left untreated.
Stimulation therapy complements emergency food aid. It is a set of activities that stimulate children’s motor skills and cognitive development. The therapist uses toys to encourage children to play and gives them individual attention.
Each activity plays a specific role in development: holding a toy above a child's head will help with arm extension while drawing with pens and pencils will help develop a better grip. Simple actions, such as kicking a ball or pushing a plastic car help develop movement, interactions and reflexes.
Famine affects many families in Chad
In June 2022, Chad, the third least developed country in the world according to the UN, declared a "food emergency" due to the "steady deterioration in the nutritional situation."
According to the UN, 5.5 million Chadians—more than a third of the population—needed "emergency humanitarian assistance" in 2021. The situation has been worsened by the war in Ukraine and its impact on the global grain trade.
The project is being supported by the German Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) until June 2024.