BAMAKO, Mali, 11 November 2009 Bisected by the vast and growing Sahara Desert, Mali is a country where food and nutrition security are precarious even in the best of times.
But with soaring food prices, a by-product of the global economic crisis, more and more people here are struggling to obtain adequate nutrition. Undernutrition has reached World Health Organization emergency levels, and hospital wards are full.
Last week, UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman visited Mali, one of the poorest countries in the world, to draw attention to the issue.
One in five children in Mali do not survive to see their fifth birthday, said Veneman. Most of these children are dying from preventable diseases like pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria, often exacerbated by undernutrition. In Mali, 32 per cent of children under five are underweight.