SAVE the Children International has warned that an estimated 67,000 children are at risk of dying from extreme hunger across Sub-Saharan Africa before the end of this year.
Save the Children is a global non-governmental organisation that champions the rights and interests of children worldwide, prioritising the most vulnerable.
With 25,000 staff across 117 countries, Save the Children responds to major emergencies, delivers innovative development programmes, and ensures children’s voices are heard through its campaign to build a better future for and with them.
The organisation attributed the risk to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’re already seeing the devastating impacts of this virus on some of the world’s hungriest people. Coronavirus measures have decimated livelihoods and crop production, jobs have dried up, and food is becoming increasingly expensive – if it’s available at all. Simply put, many parents can no longer put food on the table for their children,” said regional director for East and Southern Africa, Ian Vale in a statement. “We’re already seeing more children arriving at our clinics everyday suffering from malnutrition, and we know that we’re only at the beginning. If we wait until clinics are full, it will be too late. The food crisis could kill tens of thousands of children unless they are reached with humanitarian assistance immediately. We cannot afford to wait.”
New analysis from Save the Children on data taken from the Lancet indicates that an average of 426 children per day are at risk of death unless urgent action is taken.
The organisation states that food insecurity has been compounded by a series of shocks this year in parts of the continent; from floods, swarms of locusts and soaring food prices to displacements.
The NGO further stated that the impact of COVID-19 had added to these factors, crippling economies and destroying livelihoods.
It stated that COVID-19 had also rendered food and health services unaffordable or unavailable.
Earlier this year, it was estimated that COVID-19 would drive up poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa by 23 percent.
By 2030, it is predicted that an estimated 433 million people would be undernourished across Africa.
The organisation further warned of severe malnutrition due to food scarcity.
“With food increasingly scarce, young children are growing risk of severe malnutrition. Prior to the pandemic, more than 26 million children across East and Southern Africa were stunted, and 2.6 million children suffered from severe acute malnutrition – the deadliest form of undernutrition,” stated Vale. “In West and Central Africa, 15.4 million children under five are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition this year; a twenty per cent increase from earlier estimates.”
He stated that even before the pandemic, Sub-Saharan Africa was one of the most food insecure regions globally.
Vale warned that the region was expected to be home to more than half of the world’s chronically hungry if current trends continue.
Save the Children is responding to the food crisis by providing food or cash to vulnerable families, ensuring access to safe and clean water and by continuing its health and nutrition services in a coronavirus-safe way.
With resources running dangerously low, Save the Children is urgently calling for funding to support some of the most deprived children in the world.