The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

WFP report extracts

Below are what I think are some interesting paragraphs from the full World
Food Programme report about their Iraq relief operation, which runs in
parallel with Food-for-Oil, mentioned in a news article Harriet sent to
the list this morning. 

The full (18 page) report is at .
The WFP's page is at .

WFP/EB.1/99/7-A/2   21 December 1998



5. The main reason for outstanding nutritional problems is the massive
deterioration in basic infrastructure, in particular water-supply and
waste disposal systems. For example, it is estimated that access to
potable water is currently 50 percent of the 1990 level in urban areas,
and only 33 percent in rural areas. Deterioration of waste disposal
systems is equally severe. The most vulnerable groups have been the
hardest hit, especially children under five years of age. Throughout
infancy they are subject to the vicious circle of exposure to unhygienic
conditions (especially in urban centres), leading to diarrhoea and
diseases which negatively affect nutritional status, which in turn reduces
immunity to disease. 


11. The principal reasons for high rates of malnutrition in Iraq are: 

a) The inadequacy of water and sanitation infrastructure and services and
the resulting high incidence of diarrhoeal and other water-related
diseases. Addressing these problems is extremely challenging as the health
care infrastructure in the country, which has traditionally had a curative
orientation, is not equipped to address commonplace and chronic health

b) Lack of necessary micronutrients in the SCR 986 general ration.
Although the ration meets basic caloric requirements, it is deficient in
several nutrients which are essential to children’s normal growth and
development (such as iron, Vitamin A, and some of the B group vitamins,
notably folic acid). The effects of such deficiencies on the health of
children, as well as women, are well known. Of these, the high prevalence
of anaemia in Iraq is especially notable. Furthermore, for children
already suffering from malnutrition, recovery and catch-up growth can only
occur through the provision of additional, nutritionally appropriate

c) The fact that primary health care has not been a priority concern has
led to the absence of basic health education. Thus, child care and other
health-related practices are often not in line with best medical practice.
A centralized approach to health care has also meant that there has been
little community outreach. While such a system may serve the needs of a
generally healthy population under 'normal' conditions, its weaknesses
become evident in times of emergency and chronic nutritional stress. 

d) Inappropriate infant and child care practices. According to the
UNICEF/MOH survey of March 1998, only 15 percent of children are
breast-fed exclusively in the first six months of life and only one third
of children are given no semi-solid/solid food between the age of six and
nine months. When sanitary conditions are poor, the importance of
exclusive breast-feeding on promoting good nutritional status and reducing
infant morbidity and mortality increases. The WFP-supported programme will
therefore actively sustain the training of mothers, through the Iraqi Red
Crescent Society centres, in appropriate breast-feeding and infant and
child care practices. 

12. Because of the above outstanding problems of malnourishment,
especially among children under five, intervention is required immediately
to improve the nutritional status of children while the root causes of the
problem are addressed through the larger intersectoral approach. 


Risk Assessment 

42. Implementation of the PRRO in Iraq is dependent upon
several key external factors.  These include:  

a) political stability/security to provide an environment within which
programme activities can be implemented. The threat of both internal and
external conflict must necessarily be factored into the success of the

b)  The performance of the United Nations Oil-for-Food Programme.  As the
WFP operation is planned around the continuation (and improved
performance) of this programme, any interruption or cessation of the
agreement will affect the parallel assistance provided by WFP. 


[the rest of the extracts, from the same report, re-state UNICEF
malnutrition findings from March and October 1998]

3. In spite of the availability of the general food ration, and the above
parallel assistance measures, there continue to be outstanding health and
nutritional problems within the Iraqi population, particularly among
children under five and their mothers. The most comprehensive statistical
information on trends in malnutrition among young children has been
collected by UNICEF in collaboration with the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Results of this survey, conducted in March 1998 indicate that the
malnutrition rate among children under five in centre and south Iraq is
22.8 percent underweight (low weight-for-age);  26.7 percent chronic
malnutrition (low height-for-age); and 9.1 percent acute malnutrition (low
weight-for-height). The figures for the Northern governorates are somewhat
better, with 15.1 percent underweight, 25.3 percent chronically
malnourished, and 2.7 percent acutely malnourished. No significant
differences were found between rates among male and female children in any
of the governorates.[1] 

4. UNICEF and the Ministry of Health carried out another survey of the
nutritional status of infants in the centre and south (0-11 months) in
late October 1998.  Preliminary results, available in early November, were
consistent with those of the March survey and of a similar UNICEF/MOH
survey conducted exactly one year previously. Rates for the two years were
as follows: 

* general malnutrition (underweight for age): 14.7 percent in October 1998
against 14.6 percent in October 1997.

* acute malnutrition (low weight-for-height): 8.3 percent in October 1998
against 7.5 percent in October 1997.

* chronic malnutrition: (low height-for-age): 11.7 percent in October 1998
against 12.2 percent in October 1997.


[1]:Caution must be exercised in the interpretation of these results, as
the sample was taken from primary health centres and is not necessarily
representative of the entire population.  However, they are believed to
present a reasonably accurate picture of the general situation. 

[end of extracts]

This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To be removed/added, email, NOT the
whole list. Archived at

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]