Where we work
Our annual report
There are a lot of very malnourished children where I come from and everyone is having to take their child to the health centre for treatment.
33-year-old Houwela lives in Niger - in the Tahoua region, an area that is known as the 'gateway to the Sahara'. Like most of the 1,000 other families who live in her village, Houwela, her husband and their three children rely on subsistence farming to provide them with the staples of sorghum and millet.
A poor harvest and rising food costs
Due to the lack of rain, the harvest this year has been really bad, and that is the reason why people are having to buy food at the market.
Because of frequent droughts, pests and a deterioration in the security situation, access to food in Niger is becoming more and more difficult. Families like Houwela’s are forced to rely on buying food at the local market. But soaring prices are pushing people beyond their limits.
Parents are doing a great job trying to keep their children healthy. My husband is doing his best to find food for us. But it is a real struggle. If we are alive, we can surely find something to eat.
Zanadiya falls ill
Houwela’s youngest child, Zanadiya, has always enjoyed playing with her two older sisters. But at 21 months old, her health began to deteriorate rapidly.
It started when she caught malaria. I took Zanadiya to a health centre, but she got worse and worse.
Zanadiya was diagnosed as being malnourished and sick with malaria.
Houwela had to act quickly. She sold all her family’s chickens to pay for a motorbike ride to Concern’s emergency nutrition recovery centre in the nearest city. Houwela made the 32-kilometre journey with little Zanadiya wrapped securely on her back.
A turning point
Zanadiya's case was an emergency one. Her middle-arm circumference (MUAC) reading measured only nine centimetres, which meant she was severely malnourished and at high risk. Healthcare staff began treatment immediately. Houwela and Zanadiya would have to remain at the centre for up to seven days.
Initially, Zanadiya was fed through a nasogastric tube. She was also given two blood transfusions for severe anaemia. Her fever subsided and she began to put on weight after receiving emergency therapeutic food sachets and fortified porridge. All the while, Houwela continued to care for her.
Before I arrived, my child was always crying and so was I. Although my child is sick, I’m happy to look after her. The nurses have been very helpful and we are so grateful.
Two and a half months later
After being discharged, Houwela and Zanadiya returned to their village. Houwela continued to take Zanadiya to the local health clinic for treatment and regular check ups. Two and a half months later, her condition has improved considerably, but at almost eight kilos, she still weighs less for her age.
Now, Zanadiya has recovered a lot and she plays with her sisters. The nurse told us to keep feeding her well but, you know, times are hard. It's not always that we have good nutrition.
The family only eat one meal a day – mostly boiled millet and curd, and occasionally prepare cowpeas or rice. As they await the next rainy season and the hope that it will bring a better harvest, Houwela is thankful that Zanadiya survived.
I am glad that I brought her to the emergency nutrition centre. I am really happy to see Zanadiya still alive, because, at the time of her illness, we had lost hope that she would live long. She was in a critical condition. If we had not brought her to the health centre she would not be in this world anymore.
Find out how you can help children like Zanadiya facing a hunger crisis.
Houwela and Zanadiya's story features in our newest TV advert.
Other ways to help
Give a one-off, or a monthly, donation today.
From mountain trekking to marathon running, join us for one of our many exciting outdoor events!
With an extensive range of alternative gifts, we have something to suit everybody.
Leave the world a better place with a life-changing legacy.
We partner with a range of organisations that share our passion and the results have been fantastic.
Raise money for Concern by organising your own charity fundraising event.