A new Nutrition Multi-sectoral Assessment (2019) was jointly undertaken in Gaza by WFP, Unicef and Save the Children. This study reveals the scale of nutritional issues of infants, children and their mothers in the poorest, most marginalized areas of the Gaza Strip and their causes. The findings of the assessment are a powerful call for strengthened cooperation that links together prevention, preparedness and response to address gaps and improve the situation of Gaza’s poorest communities.
The Key findings are the following:
• Half of the vulnerable households in Gaza have poor or barely acceptable food consumption. Almost all of those households (93%) are not eating enough iron rich foods, increasing the risk of anaemia.
• Malnutrition is high among pregnant women (18%) and mothers of young infants (14%) putting at risk the life and growth of the unborn child.
• Nearly one third (30%) of pregnant women are not taking much-needed micronutrient supplements. Access and steady availability of supplies are of concern.
• Less than 50% of infants less than six months-old are exclusively breastfed, and more than half of children are not breastfed anymore when they reach their first birthday. This may increase the number of sick and malnourished children. WHO and UNICEF recommend exclusive breast feeding to children until six months old and breast feeding with complementary feeding until two years old.
• The percentage of infants that are being bottle fed is extremely high, with more than 40 percent of all children receiving infant formula, a practice that carries additional risks linked to diarrhoea, and acute respiratory infections, in an environment with poor access to safe water and sanitation.
• Only 14 percent of the children are able to consume an acceptable diet which ensures an adequate number of meals and variety of food.