BEFORE the end of this year, 67,000 children could die of hunger in Sub-Saharan Africa, a charity has warned.
Save the Children has calculated that, on average, 426 children a day are at risk of dying from hunger and malnutrition in the region. Young children under five are most at risk. The spread of coronavirus follows devastating floods and swarms of locusts which have destroyed crops in the region (News, 1 May).
Before the pandemic, 2.6 million children in Sub-Saharan Africa were suffering from the deadliest form: severe acute malnutrition (SAM). Now, as livelihoods have been destroyed and health services left inaccessible or unavailable, 15.4 million children are expected to suffer from SAM by the end of the year.
Save the Children examined data from a study in the journal The Lancet, published this summer, which said that the impact of the pandemic on low- and middle-income countries could lead to an additional 128,605 deaths of children under five: 52 per cent would occur in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The charity’s regional director for East and Southern Africa, Ian Vale, said: “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. . .
“We’re already seeing more children arriving at our clinics every day 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.”
The International Food Policy Research Institute has predicted that food poverty will grow dramatically across the globe in 2020. Sub-Saharan African will be one of the hardest hit, with a 23 per cent increase in those classed as falling into extreme poverty: a rise of 80 million people.
By 2030, it is predicted that an estimated 433 million people will be malnourished across Africa.
Save the Children has launched an appeal to raise funds to support what it says are “some of the most deprived children in the world”.