Severe acute malnutrition trends

Published : November 2020

Although the full impact of Covid-19 on the nutritional situation is not yet known, significant disruptions of nutritional services have already been observed. For example, vitamin A supplementation coverage, targeting children aged 6-59 months, decreased by 75% in the first semester of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. According to 2020 nutrition survey data from Burkina Faso and Niger, the nutritional situation has clearly deteriorated in these countries. In the six Sahelian countries (Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal), a total of 718 629 children (6-59 months) with severe acute malnutrition were admitted in specialised health facilities for SAM treatment from January to September 2020. This represents about half of the estimated number of expected SAM cases in 2020 (UNICEF/WFP, May 2020). According to data from national ministries of health, the number of SAM admissions in the six Sahelian countries has decreased by 10% compared to the same period in 2019. Mauritania is the only country that recorded an increase (+ 5.8%) of new SAM admissions. The Sahel’s downward trend could be explained by the direct effects of Covid-19-related preventive measures, which have resulted in movement restrictions, cancellations of certain mass activities, as well as a reduced frequentation of health services by community members for fear of being contaminated. More analysis needs to be conducted in order to better understand these trends. In response to the new realities, an operational paradigm shift is needed to maintain, scale up and accelerate the delivery of services for the benefit of the most vulnerable populations. More than ever, it is vital to strengthen multi-sectoral approaches aimed at protecting the nutritional status of women and children in order to prevent any deterioration in their nutritional situation.

Countries : Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Region, Senegal

Themes : Children & Youth, Covid-19, Food security, Nutrition, Health, Social protection

Scale : National, Regional (West Africa)

Langs : English

See also

Sahel and West Africa: 28.9 million people in crisis phase ( 3-5) November-December 2022


Sahel and West Africa: 27.3 million of people in crisis phase ( 3-5), March-may 2022


Sahel and West Africa: 33.4 million people expected to face crisis or worse (phase 3-5) June-Aug 2022


Sahel and West Africa: 23.7 million people in crisis phase (3-5), Oct-Dec


ECOWAS countries with more than 1 million acutely-food insecure people (phases 3-5)