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Today, over 150 million children are malnourished and this contributes to three million child deaths each year. Our new exhibition, featuring images from the Central African Republic, South Sudan and Liberia, shares the stories of the individuals behind these statistics.
Three award-winning photographers worked on the project and each brought their own distinct style and perspective to depict the issue of hunger in their own way.
The exhibition is on display at the More London Riverside development near Tower Bridge, London until the end of October 2019. However, if you can’t make it in person, or if you just can't wait to have a sneak peek, here are some of the images and stories from the Central African Republic that will feature.
The exhibition is part of Concern’s Free From Hunger appeal. Money raised from the appeal will help ensure mothers and babies get the food, water, nutrition and healthcare they need to recover from malnourishment and stay strong and healthy in the long term. All donations received before 24 December will be matched pound for pound by the UK government, ensuring even more children get the nutritious food and healthcare they need to reach their full potential.
This matched funding will go towards Concern’s work to improve the health and nutrition of mothers and children under five in the Central African Republic, where poor nutrition has led to the country being ranked as the world’s hungriest. The country has one of the world’s highest rates of child mortality, ongoing conflict has severely affected the livelihoods and living conditions of over half of the population, and over a million people have been forced from their homes, severely affecting households’ livelihoods and access to food.
The Central African Republic
The Central African Republic (CAR) is the world’s hungriest country. Conflict has severely affected over half the population and over a million people have been forced from their homes, devastating people’s livelihoods and access to food.
This crisis has also considerably weakened CAR’s healthcare system, leaving health facilities partially or completely destroyed, or non-functional due to insecurity, lack of medication and equipment.
Unsurprisingly, the country has one of the world’s highest rates of child mortality.
Dutch photographer Chris de Bode travelled to CAR and said:
I chose to photograph people’s possessions in the style of Dutch 17th century still lifes to try and give a different perspective on what life is like for people who live in some of the poorest communities in the world.
53-year- old Olivier is chairman of a Concern-supported group that cultivates corn, sweet potatoes and groundnuts, as well as other crops, on a small plot of land.
Recurring bouts of conflict have driven farmers repeatedly from their land, leaving fields abandoned. When they return, many do not have seeds to plant or are reluctant to plant crops without a stable future in sight.
As a result crop production has dropped, food prices have increased and many people are left without reliable access to food. Concern works with the group to improve the quality of their seeds, grow their income and increase the availability of seeds at local markets.
We appreciate the support we have received from Concern – they have done a great job helping us be productive with our seeds… we have come together as a cooperative so that we can help each other maker a better life for ourselves.
Shown above: Orange peel and a charcoal lump.
Estella, 28, is part of Gbadengue village seed group, which receives seeds, tools and advice from Concern. Estella says the seeds will make a big difference to her family. Currently, she and her family face many difficulties. Her husband makes and sells charcoal (like that pictured) and often has to wait up to a fortnight before being paid, which means they cannot buy food.
We hope that after the harvest we will have enough to buy food and medicine for the children. It will make a difference to our family. I am glad that I have been chosen [to be part of the seed group] and am happy that I will be working together with others in the community – to share our experiences and to improve our lives.
Shown above: Amaranth leaves, pot full of ‘termite’ wood (used as a traditional cure for stomach ache), a book of religious hymns and a hoe.
40-year-old Marie has 15-month-old twins, Moise and Dorcas. Dorcas has now recovered from severe acute malnutrition after she was admitted to the Concern clinic when she was six months old, weighing just 4.2kgs. Now, Moise is being treated for malnutrition and diarrhoea.
After undergoing an emergency caesarean, Marie is unable to help her husband on their small plot of land. She said:
If Concern was not here, things would have been much worse. I wouldn’t have been able to afford medicine for my children – so they would not have been treated.
Shown above: Fermented cassava and tortoiseshell (the flesh is eaten).
Thirty-year-old Alpha says that every day is a struggle. Her husband was killed by an armed group during the crisis. She has to work in the fields for other people in order to earn a little money for food, and often struggles to feed her children. Her 17-month-old daughter Nicoles is currently being treated for severe malnourishment at a Concern-supported health clinic. She said:
My child doesn’t get enough food to eat. She’s not healthy. We don’t eat well. I have to go farming and bring back what I can for us to eat. We only have the basics – cassava leaves and okra, we don’t have oil or peanut paste. Sometimes we eat twice a day, sometimes only once. There are times when I go to bed hungry – and sometimes I do without so that I can feed my children.
Shown above: Health register and notebook, stethoscope, CAR flag, photo of Selefio Stanislas, an official health facility stamp with ink and pens.
Rufin, who is 29 years old, has been a nutritional health officer at Gbandengue clinic since August 2015, when Concern first started to support the facility. The clinic serves around 6,000 people, including just over one thousand children under the age of five. There is also a mobile health clinic for more remote communities.
In February 2019, the director of the clinic, 46-year-old Stanislas Selefio (seen in the photograph in the image), died suddenly. But his legacy lives on – with Rufin, pharmacist Marcelin Pezele and matron Micheline Kolengue continuing to provide care and treatment for the community. Rufin said:
I feel sad because we shared the same office, and now his chair is empty. But that doesn’t stop me doing the work. It would have been his wish for us to continue.
Shown above: Machete, radio, chicken foot talisman, a box of matches, squash leaves, groundnuts and syringe (used to administer infant oral medication).
Mum-of-seven Natalie (33) and her husband Beni (39), received seeds, tools and training in farming skills from Concern to help with their recovery after they fled their village during conflict.
From the seeds given to them, they have harvested groundnuts and squash leaves (like those pictured above) beans and sesame on the small plot of land they tend near their home. She said:
I was also given two machetes and a hoe as part of the programme. It has made a big difference. Things have changed. The seeds have grown, and we sold part of the harvest and kept the rest for the family. I’m hopeful for the future.
Shown above: Cob of corn, groundnuts, handmade bracelets, thinly sliced squash leaves, plantain and talisman.
Nadine is a Concern-supported Mama Lumiere – or ‘lead mother’ in her community. She has lived in the village all her life and is highly respected.
Nadine encourages mothers to take their children to the nearby health facility at the first sign of malnutrition or sickness and passes on her skills and knowledge to other women to help them improve infant and child feeding practices and hygiene in the home.
She cultivates her own plot of land to grow food for her family and also gives cooking demonstrations, using ingredients like squash leaves and groundnuts, so other mothers can learn how to prepare nutritious meals for their families.
I support around 15 other women and their families. They all like learning. I’ve taught them how to take care of their children – before and after birth – and about good hygiene.