The United Nations has introduced a new ready-to-use food supplement which could significantly boost efforts to reduce child malnutrition in Somalia, said a statement received by AFP Thursday.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) said the new type of supplement, called Plumpy'Doz, will be distributed to more than 100,000 of the most vulnerable children in Somalia, a Horn of Africa country ravaged by war and famine.
"Plumpy'Doz is the latest generation of nutritious, safe, convenient, and ready-to-use food designed to satisfy the nutritional needs of children aged six to 36 months and supplement food distributions by partners such as the World Food Programme (WFP) as well as other home food sources," it said.
The supplement is a brown paste, made with vegetable fat, peanut butter, sugar, milk and other nutrients, and has already been used by the French charity Medecins Sans Frontieres (Doctors Without Borders).
The new supplement has a longer shelf life than previously used aid diets, its taste is more appealing to children and does not need to be mixed with water, a major hazard in many countries.
The national average prevalence of acute malnutrition in Somalia is 18.6 percent, well above the 15 percent emergency threshold which signifies a very critical situation, UNICEF said.
The new product is produced by the French company Nutriset.
"By adopting this new approach, we aim to reach children before they become malnourished," said UNICEF Somalia representative Christian Balslev-Olesen.
Fighting involving clan militias, Somali government forces and Islamist insurgents continues to claim the lives of civilians almost every day, causing massive population displacements.