Tuesday, September 11, 2007


On Jul 31 Reuters published an article on the malnutrition rate of Al Geneina, the capital of West Darfur. It discussed a recently published survey performed by an international NGO stating that global acute malnutrition rates in the town had increased to 2 percentage points above emergency level. According to the Reuters article, the head of the NGO assured that “urgent action” was needed to prevent a worsening of the situation.

This week, in a related AP article, a local UN official said that “malnutrition is on the rise in Darfur,” and another official – this time from New York - declared that malnutrition rates were “well over” 17 percent in many areas of Darfur, and that we were experiencing a general decline in the humanitarian situation.

But just five days before, a Los Angeles Times article said,

“Since 2005, key indicators, including mortality and malnutrition rates, have been improving steadily. Today those rates are not only below thresholds commonly used internationally to define an ‘emergency,’ but in some cases, they are better than before the conflict, or better than those observed in other parts of Sudan and Africa.

‘There is very little malnutrition and very little disease,’ said Mike McDonagh, the north Sudan manager for the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. ‘We very quickly got it turned around.’

Malnutrition rates in Darfur have been reduced by almost half since 2004 to 12.9%, according to U.N. figures. The ‘emergency’ threshold is 15%.”

So what is actually going on?