By Joseph Scott, Communications and Policy Coordinator
It’s mid-summer in Tochloka, South Sudan and the bare landscape is shimmering with heat as temperatures are soaring above 40 degrees Celsius. Oblivious to the scorching sun, a group of women treks with their children to the community ground, which serves as a station for CARE’s mobile nutrition site.
Thirty-five-year-old Nyimbol Inamer Mading has been visiting the mobile site for the past two weeks. Her three-year-old daughter, Nyehok Gai Liey, was admitted in the nutrition programme after getting sick.
Nyimbol and her daughter Nyehok attending a CARE nutrition clinic in Tochloka, South Sudan © CARE/Joseph Scott
“She started by losing her appetite and then was attacked by a bout of diarrhea,” says Nyimbol, adding, “This sacred me and I took her to the mobile clinic for the health staff to have a look at her,” she says.
Health assessments by CARE nutrition staff showed that Nyehok was suffering from severe acute malnutrition, a deadly disease that affects one in four children in South Sudan. This year alone, it is estimated that more than 250,000 children in South Sudan are at risk of malnutrition.
Today, Nyehok is back with her daughter for further medical checkup and to collect her medication. “The medication is really helping. I can see a big difference if I compare with the time I first brought her here,” says Nyimbol, who is a peasant farmer.
Like many in her community, Nyimbol doesn’t have enough food to feed her family. Currently, more than six million people in the country are in dire need of food aid. The number is expected to grow in the coming months as families exhaust their food reserves.
“It’s been really hard for me to feed my family,” says Nyimbol. “Sometimes I fail to find food and we have to sleep without eating.”
This year, Nyimbol and other farmers in her community didn’t plant at all due to insecurity in their area. To survive, they scrounge for wild plants in nearby forests.
“As adults, when we don’t have food, we just sleep,” says Nyimbol. “But with children, they keep on crying and it really frustrates you when you know that you can’t give them anything to comfort them.”
For women like Nyimbol, the mobile site is a welcome development as it has helped the community to flash out malnutrition before it develops into the severe form.
“The hospital is far from here,” says Nyimbol. “The distance discourages many mothers and they resort to taking their children to traditional healers. But now that we have a mobile centre right in our village, we can visit it anytime we suspect that our children are sick.”
At the mobile site, CARE provides a range of services such as malnutrition screening and treatment. The staff also have sessions for health education and nutrition. These are usually done before that nutrition clinic.
“Over the past month, we have seen an increase of parents bringing their children for treatment at the mobile site,” says Puok Keah Kuol who is a CARE community nutrition worker in Tochloka. “This may be as a result of the ongoing food shortages.”
So far, CARE has reached out and treated more than 2000 children in Tochloka. “I am not the only mother who is happy that we have such as facility in our community. It has saved lives of many children in this area,” says Nyimbol. “I pray that the services continue so that our children grow up healthy.”
For more of CARE's work in South Sudan, click here.