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Swiss charity fights malnutrition abroad

Afghanistan's women and children suffer most from malnutrition in Asia Keystone Archive

Terre des Hommes, the Swiss children's aid organisation, held a fundraising drive on World Food Day, on Tuesday. Around 250 restaurants in German-speaking Switzerland donated part of their day's income to the organisation's nutrition projects around the world.

This content was published on October 17, 2001 - 07:36

The money will go to projects in South America, Africa, and Asia. Terre des Hommes helps children and mothers choose and prepare nutritious food.

"Malnutrition is often hidden, because it's not something you notice easily with a child," said Renate Schoch of Terre des Hommes. "But malnutrition leads to disease and inhibits the growth and development of children."

The organisation expects to collect between SFr70,000 and SFr80,000 ($43,000 to $49,000). The money will be used mainly for educational projects.

"We work with community workers, who often go to underdeveloped rural areas," Schoch told swissinfo. "There they show people what malnutrition is and how to deal with it using local resources."

Malnutrition is rampant

Malnutrition is particularly widespread in Asia, and Afghanistan is singled out as the worst case by the NGO.

"We have distribute supplies there because there is absolutely no food available for poor people there, especially for women and widows," said Schoch.

Terre des Hommes runs projects in both the Taliban and the Northern Alliance-held territories, focusing on the protection of pregnant women and the education of young mothers. In Kabul, 30 Afghan midwives go from house to house visiting these women.

The organisation also has four centres in the capital, where street children know they can get food.

The situation has become more difficult in Afghanistan since the beginning of the American bombings, but the projects are still running, according to Terre des Hommes.

"Our delegate in Peshawar (Pakistan) is in daily contact with our Afghan collaborators," said Schoch. "They are afraid with the bombs coming down every night, but they're still doing their work."

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