Attending to the nutrition needs of people affected by crisis forms a cornerstone of humanitarian response. Malnutrition can be caused or worsened by disaster that destroys livelihoods, infrastructure and food resources -- creating situations of prolonged poor access to food. Equally, high levels of malnutrition itself may define the primary crisis itself. Malnutrition often disproportionately affects vulnerable groups such as destitute populations lacking the resources to cope with shortages or children, who have lower energy reserves than adults. Malnutrition has a direct impact on health and growth, such as resistance to illness or diseases caused by the lack of specific nutrients. In programming terms, nutrition is often closely linked to Food Security.

Nurse measures a childs arm with a severe malnutrition in a clinic in an IDP camp in North Darfur

Photo: UN Photo/Albert González Farran

Key actors

Public platform and coordination mechanism, led by UNICEF, providing operational support to coordination platforms, building the capacity of stakeholders, and ensuring improved nutrition responses in humanitarian settings

Works to treat and prevent malnutrition by designing and delivering key nutrition interventions in humanitarian crisis

Considers nutrition a core element when delivering food assistance in emergencies

Works to improve diets and raise levels of nutrition by improving food systems, food production, and food distribution

Open community of food security and nutrition actors, aiming to share information, technical knowledge and best practices, to shape agendas, and to understand and influence donor priorities

Works with field practitioners, policy makers, and researchers to strengthen know-how in emergency nutrition and coordination

Key references

Minimum standards helping humanitarian actors ensure adequate nutrition in humanitarian contexts

Handbook providing nutrition actors relevant tools, guidance, information, and resources for preparing for and respond to nutrition needs in humanitarian situations

Information tools

Database of resources regarding nutrition in emergencies, information management, knowledge management, coordination, and crosscutting issues

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