Malnourished child in Mauritanian village

Counterpart International’s staff in Mauritania visited the village of Medine to monitor children’s health and found a little boy named Khané Mint Izidbih severely malnourished.

“He was pale, his eyes had no focus, and his mother Areyiba had no more hope,” a Counterpart staff member recalled from that June 2010 visit.

After taking his height, weight and mid-upper arm circumference, Khané was referred to the health post. When the nearest health post did not have therapeutic food for malnourished children, Counterpart staff went to the regional capital to find him this medication.

Khané gradually gained weight and his progress was regularly followed by Counterpart staff. Although at 28 months old he has not fully recovered and remains moderately malnourished, Khané’s mother says he is steadily continuing to gain weight. With the rations he keeps receiving from Counterpart and the monthly check-ups, Khané’s mother is able to watch her son progress towards a healthy future.

“Counterpart woke us up,” says Salka mint Sidaty, the vice president of a cooperative in Medine. “We were sleeping before Counterpart was here. Counterpart woke us up with behavior change communication sessions, and these health sessions.”

Counterpart performs health check-ups – called Growth Monitoring Promotion (GMP) – in more than 160 communities in southern Mauritania.

During these sessions, community health workers screen children who are from six to 59 months old to determine their nutritional status. Weight and height measurements are used to classify them as healthy, moderately malnourished or severely malnourished. The community health workers also take mid-upper arm circumference to identify children who have wasting—an indicator of severe malnutrition and heightened risk of death.

If a child is moderately malnourished, he is enrolled in GMP sessions and receives monthly food rations to improve his nutrition. Severely malnourished children are referred to health posts to ensure they receive proper treatment.

Counterpart is currently carrying out a U.S. Agency for International Development Title II Multi-Year Assistance Program in more than 160 communities throughout four regions of Mauritania. The program has three components: maternal and child health and nutrition (MCHN), microenterprise and community development. Counterpart implements its MCHN component in collaboration with the Mauritanian Ministry of Health.

This success story is featured on, a resource for the policy community and development practitioners to learn about U.S. food assistance programs.