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Innovative EU-funded programme helped 1.2 million people with life-saving services

Press release23 May 2023
Mother of two Nyahok Diew with her 10-month-old daughter Nyariek
Mother of two Nyahok Diew with her 10-month-old daughter Nyariek who was treated for malnutrition at a health care centre in Unity State, South Sudan, which is supported by Concern as part of the ERNE programme. Photo: Ed Ram/Concern Worldwide

Concern Worldwide supported 1.2 million people with lifesaving health and nutrition services and helped over 100,000 acutely malnourished children to recover as part of an innovative EU-funded programme to tackle the underlying drivers of malnutrition.

EU funding

The EU has focused on childhood malnutrition and invested in this programme to explore new ways of addressing this issue. The success and promising insights gained from ERNE must now be built on. More investment is needed and longer-term commitment is needed to end childhood malnutrition.

Insights gained from this multi-pronged ERNE approach was shared with nutritionists from around the world at an international online conference in May 2023. 

Among the highlights of the programme were:

  • It provided practical and financial support to 304 health facilities in five countries and helped strengthen their capacity in the longer term through the provision of training, support, equipment and renovating clinics.  Over half of these facilities reported an improvement in their capacity at the end of the programme;
  • It provided emergency cash transfers to 175,000 people;
  • It introduced the “Surge” approach in 275 health facilities allowing health workers to proactively monitor trends in malnutrition and common diseases to predict spikes in demand for healthcare and help ensure they can cope, for example by deploying more health staff to the area or pre-positioning more supplies of medicine or “Plumpy’nut”, a special paste used to treat malnutrition.  As a result, almost three-quarters of the health facilities (72%) were able to maintain a good level of healthcare despite significant increases in demand at certain times.
  • It supported communities to set up simple early warning monitoring systems in 33 different locations across the five countries.  Volunteers in these communities were trained to look out for signs of impending drought, flooding, disease outbreaks or other risks that could lead to increased malnutrition and to sound the alert so that support can be provided to families before their situation becomes much worse.

A mother's story

Nyahok Diew is among the mothers who benefited from ERNE in South Sudan.  Her 10-month-old daughter, Nyariek, became unwell. The infant initially suffered from diarrhoea and was vomiting, but then developed a fever.

Nyahok brought her to a health care centre in Unity State, which is supported by Concern. As part of the ERNE programme, the staff there were trained in how to identify and treat malnutrition in young children.

After being screened by the staff, Nyariek was diagnosed with malnutrition and was put on a course of "Plumpy’nut".

“After coming to the clinic for the second time, I have found that my child is gaining weight. Which is a great relief,” she said.

Unique funding arrangement

The ERNE Programme was supported under a unique arrangement with the EU’s humanitarian Aid (ECHO) which provided three-year funding in place of the normal short-term cycles of funding which humanitarian donors often provide. 

Concern was one of only four international non-governmental organisations selected to pilot this new arrangement under a “Programmatic Partnership” with the EU.  This strategic multi-annual funding enabled Concern to implement a wider-reaching and longer-lasting form of humanitarian response. 

“The programme was able to work with communities and governments in very conflict-prone and climate-affected countries over a longer timeframe to address some of the root causes of poverty and hardship rather than providing continual humanitarian aid,” said Aoife Black, Concern’s ERNE Global Co-ordinator.

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