Lifesaving Therapeutic Food is Running Out...

by By Kari Costanza with photos by Jon Warren on September 25, 2015

In Warrap State, one of South Sudan’s ten states, World Vision is working feverishly to save children’s lives with Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food, or RUTF. On a recent day, 78 malnourished children and their parents huddled in a small clinic, funded in part by World Vision, to be measured, weighed, and assessed.
Unfortunately, the lifesaving peanut paste is running out.
“We only have 300 packets of RUTF left,” says Gabriel Manut, the nutrition coordinator for World Vision in Warrap State. “They will only last a week. “This is a crisis,” he says. UNICEF is trying to get them more RUTF.
“I think they will come through,” says Gabriel. “When we don’t have the RUTF, they are so malnourished. They cannot survive. They will die. I’m very worried all the time.”
‘If you take the baby to the clinic, it will be OK,”
Sitting patiently with a sick child in her arms, Nyibol Akol waits to hear her name called. Nyibol relies on her ears for everything. She has been blind since she was a baby. This is her first time at the clinic. She was told by the other people in her village to come. “They said, ‘If you take the baby to the clinic, it will be OK,” she says.

Nyibol cannot see her malnourished child, Nyane, who is 2 years old. She only hears his noises—his whimpers turn into full cries when weighed.
Nyane is sick. He has diarrhea, headache, and no appetite. When health workers try to put him on his feet, he cannot stand. “I use my other senses. I hear him cry,” she says. “I touch him and feel that he’s hot.” She relies on her sighted neighbors for help. “I ask people how he looks,” she says. “They tell me what they see. They said the baby is not OK. I could not do anything to help. People said, ‘You’d better come here.’ I am worried.”
“I don’t think he will survive.”
Lately, Nyane seems worse. “I cannot see, but I know my child is crying at night,” says Nyibol.
Nyane’s sister is worried as well. She has led her mother to the clinic and is helping with her little brother. The walk took two long hours. Nyane’s sister, also named Nyibol, is 7.

“This child is very malnourished,” says his sister. “I don’t think he will survive.”

The thought hurts her very much. “I really love him,” she says.

World Vision staff measure Nyane’s arm, using the middle upper arm circumference tool, or MUAC. Nyane measures 9.8 on the MUAC. The news is bad. Nyane measures in the red—the danger zone. “It means he’s severely malnourished,” says Gabriel.
Nyane weighs 7.2 kilograms, or 15.9 pounds. His height—77 centimeters, or 30 inches. According to the World Health Organization, he should weigh six pounds more than he does. Nyane needs to gain 40 percent more for his weight to be considered normal.
Gabriel says he will get 40 packets of RUTF to last him two weeks.


Children like Nyane depend on World Vision and its partners to provide the food they need to survive.  Right now, providing food is one of the main components of World Vision’s work in Warrap State says Madeleine Bilonda.  “If we can get the RUTF, we can make a difference. In a state like this, that is so dry, these packets save lives.”

How Your Church Can Respond

HELP NOW: Despite ongoing conflict in fragile places like South Sudan, your church can take on the greatest needs of our day by providing emergency food and interventions for malnourished children in South Sudan.

DOWNLOAD a prayer guide to have your church pray for this massive refugee and hunger crisis. 
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