UNICEF urges African leaders and development partners to combine humanitarian response with prevention.

Food price surges, bad harvests, climate change, and conflict need African leaders to build resilience.

Equatorial Guinea, 25 May 2022 COVID-insecurity 19, poor harvests, the Ukraine conflict, and global food price hikes will hurt needy families from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa.

The African Union (AU) is holding an Extraordinary Humanitarian Summit and Pledging Conference this week in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, as the ‘lean season’ starts in the Sahel and the number of children with severe wasting rises from 1.7 million to 2 million. UNICEF advises governments and development partners to combine life-saving measures with crisis prevention and prediction to build resilience.

Without more aid, 1.2 million Congolese children may starve this year. Ethiopia (1.2 million), northern Nigeria (671,890), Niger (491,822), Chad (348,160), Somalia (330,000), South Sudan (300,000), Mali (309,821), and Burkina Faso have major requirements (179,252). Current patterns indicate deterioration.

Children in many parts of the area are nearing the worst time of year. A poor diet may affect young children’s growth and development. Governments and donors must combine short-term help with flexible, multi-year investment to ensure a smooth transition so countries and communities may become more resilient.

UNICEF’s Nutrition Humanitarian Action Plan has a $363 million deficit in 2021. 18 million people in Africa’s Sahel region risk acute famine in the next three months, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. 16 million horn of Africa residents are impacted.

The ready-to-use therapeutic food treatments that save so many children’s lives each year are expected to rise by up to 16 percent over the next six months owing to an increase in raw ingredient prices.

Drought affects Horn of Africa children. Mohammed M. Malick Fall, UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa, said the situation is dire. The humanitarian situation calls for local solutions and long-term resilience.

Last Monday, UNICEF issued Severe wasting: An ignored child survival emergency, which says rising levels of severe wasting in children and mounting treatment costs imperil global financing to save their lives.

The African Union declared 2022 the Year of Nutrition to fight malnutrition, which affects physical, mental, cognitive, and physiological development. Malnourished kids are 11 times more likely to die without treatment. Malnutrition causes almost half of under-5 deaths.

UNICEF and partners are having a side session this week on addressing humanitarian malnutrition. The goal is to provide a lasting solution that promotes resilience and recognises multi-sectoral nutrition difficulties.

Last year, 12,1 million African youngsters died. Although wasting in Africa has dropped, progress hasn’t kept pace with population growth, meaning 500,000 more children risk wasting each year than 10 years ago.

UNICEF evaluated 154 million children for severe wasting in 2021 despite pandemic-related delays.

• Accelerate access to lifesaving treatment for wasting youngsters.

• Countries should include child wasting treatment in health and long-term development finance schemes so all children may benefit.

• Include therapeutic diets for wasting youngsters in global hunger budgets.

• Governments and all partners must shift paradigms, increase prevention, and promote multi-sectoral approaches to address widespread food insecurity, inadequate dietary and care practises for infants and young children, inadequate maternal nutrition, high incidence of childhood illnesses, inadequate access to water, sanitation, and health services, gender, and other social norms.

• Donors and civil society organisations should support flexible nutrition finance to diversify the donor base.

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