More than 750,000 people face famine conditions in the worst hunger crisis in decades
Save the Children delivers US$28.5 million in cash to 19 countries affected by the hunger crisis
NAIROBI, July 5, 2022 – Families facing the worst global hunger crisis in decades resort to desperate means to survive, drinking from waterholes, eating rotten meat and fighting wild animals for food, according to Save the Children, which has announced an urgent emergency. injection of funds for a rapidly escalating disaster.
Figures show the number of people going hungry daily has doubled to 276 million from 135 million in the last two years and now up to 750,000 people face famine conditions in five countries as drought collides with conflict and COVID -19.
The war in Ukraine has disrupted the global food system by soaring prices for wheat and sunflower oil, exacerbating severe hunger crises in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Yemen to the Sahel region of West Africa, and Save the Children is seeing more and more children with life-threatening malnutrition.
The Horn of Africa has been hit by drought after four consecutive failed rainy seasons with 18.4 million people facing acute food insecurity, raising fears of a repeat of 2011, when lack of intervention caused a famine in Somalia that killed 260,000 people, half of whom were children under the age of 5.
In parts of northern Kenya, the only water available to some families comes from animal feed troughs, which is spreading debilitating diseases like diarrhea in communities, severely affecting children.
Save the Children staff working in eastern Ethiopia reported an increase in invasions into communities by hungry wild animals, with monkeys attacking women and children who think they may be carrying food or water and wild boars entering in the homes.
Reports of children suffering from malnutrition in Somalia are rising rapidly with 1.5 million children expected to be acutely malnourished by the end of the year, including 386,400 who are likely to be severely malnourished.
In response to the worsening crisis, Save the Children said it was allocating $28.5 million to 19 countries facing urgent hunger emergencies, the largest ever release of cash from its Humanitarian Fund, a flexible structure that manages and disburses funds to support preparedness for emergencies and sub-prioritized crises.
Gabriella Waaijman, Save the Children’s humanitarian director, said:
“The worst global food crisis in decades is putting the lives of millions of children at risk. The combined impact of conflict, climate change, COVID and the cost of inflating food prices due to the conflict crisis in Ukraine has left 750,000 people in starvation conditions. Another 49 million people could soon follow unless they receive immediate support. Failure to act now will be catastrophic and could cost thousands of lives.
“Great progress has been made in recent decades to reduce hunger in the world. Countries on the front lines of the climate crisis have become increasingly resilient: New and innovative methods to manage the risk of cyclical shocks, such as drought, have been successful. But all countries have a limit, and for many this has been exceeded. Progress is now being reversed.”
Save the Children is prioritizing providing critical support to 19 countries where extreme hunger threatens to claim the lives and futures of thousands of children in the coming months.
These countries include Afghanistan, Myanmar, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Colombia, Venezuela, Haiti, Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon.
Save the Children is already providing food, cash, livelihood support and critical health and nutrition services to prevent children from going hungry, now or in the future. The organization is also working with partners to help communities spot early warning signs for hungry drivers so they can take steps to protect themselves and mitigate the worst impacts.
Mthulisi Dube, a nutritionist currently working with Save the Children’s Emergency Health Unit in Turkana, northern Kenya, said at least 229,000 children in northern Kenya are severely malnourished and their lives are at risk.
“There is disease everywhere, linked to hunger and thirst. I have heard that in some communities, the situation is so bad that after their animals starve, people have had to eat the rotten meat, because they have no other choice of food.
“Children are drinking from dry riverbeds and wells normally reserved for cattle. They are coming down with diarrhea, which is making their dehydration worse. It is a vicious circle.
“We also find it increasingly difficult to treat sick children, because families are constantly on the move. We have been moving our health posts to more remote centers, away from the big cities, where herding communities usually know where to find us, but are five steps ahead of us: walking, looking for food and water.
“A choice between a drink of water or antibiotics is not a choice. No human being should be in this position. It’s not worthy, it’s not safe, it’s wrong, and decision-makers and donors must act now to prevent this situation from getting worse.”
An already critical humanitarian situation in South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has been exacerbated by the third consecutive year of severe flooding that has left an estimated 63% of the population of 7.7 million people facing to high levels of acute food insecurity.
In Afghanistan, 9.6 million children go hungry every day due to a terrible combination of economic collapse, the impacts of the war in Ukraine and an ongoing drought, the latest figures show.
Gabriella Waaijman said that malnutrition caused by extreme hunger remains one of the leading causes of death for young children around the world, but it is completely preventable.
“We call on donors to join us in providing additional, flexible funding to support the expansion of urgent life-saving services in communities most at risk. We know how to treat malnutrition and we know how to prevent it. All we need now is a unified global response to stop this hunger crisis in its tracks.
“Together we can also stop the risk of this deadly killer coming back in the future. We know that the current causes of hunger require innovative long-term solutions that build resilience and address the root causes. A purely responsive system will not be able to prepare for or respond to the challenges in the years to come. Together with governments, donors, partners and communities, we must turn the tide on this global crisis to create a safe, happy and healthy world for our children, free from harm and hunger.”
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