By Sodiq Ojuroungbe
A Child rights organisation, Save the Children, has lamented that about 33 children were born into hunger every minute in 2023, estimating that not less than 17.6 million children were malnourished.
The organisation said most of the world’s malnourished children in 2023 are from Africa and Asia.
In a report issued in commemoration of World Children’s Day, Save the Children said it found in a research analysis, that about one-fifth more newborns will face hunger in 2023 compared to 14.4 million children in 2013.
Using data from the United Nations Population Prospects for 2023 and the latest data on hunger from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the group noted that economic instability, conflicts, and repeated climate shocks have contributed to a devastating hunger crisis that is affecting every corner of the world.
According to the report, Africa and Asia account for 95 per cent of the world’s undernourished births in 2023. The data does not include the impact the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory is having on hunger or the birth rate in the region.
The report added, “At least 17.6 million children will be born into hunger this year, or about 33 children a minute, which is a 22 per cent jump from a decade ago, according to new Save the Children research released today on World Children’s Day.
“Save the Children found that about one-fifth more newborns will face hunger this year compared to 2013 when 14.4 million children were born into the grips of hunger.
“In countries where at least 25 per cent of the population is facing chronic hunger, the Democratic Republic of Congo will have the highest number of babies born undernourished this year. About 1.5 million newborns are projected to be born into the grips of hunger in the DRC – the highest number recorded for the country since FAO records began in 2001.
“Projections indicate that in 2023, an estimated 6.6 million children under the age of five will be undernourished in the DRC.”
The Regional Director for Advocacy, Campaigns, Communications, and Media for Save the Children in West and Central Africa, Vishna Shah-Little urged world leaders at the global food security summit to address the root causes of acute food and nutrition insecurity.
He said, “More than 17 million newborns will this year enter a world where hunger will eat away at their childhood.
“Hunger will destroy their dreams, silence their play, disrupt their education, and threaten their lives. The future of these children is already compromised before they even take their first breath. We must protect their childhoods and futures before it’s too late.
“Hunger is not a lost cause. We have the power to significantly reduce the number of malnourished children right now, as we have in the past.
“However, if we do not tackle the root causes of hunger and malnutrition, we will continue to see the reversal of progress made for children. This is a global hunger crisis, and it requires a global solution.
“Save the Children is calling on world leaders to meet at the global food security summit in the UK today (Monday) to address the root causes of acute food and nutrition insecurity.
Only by putting an end to global conflict, tackling the climate crisis and global inequality, and building more resilient health, nutrition, and social protection systems that are less vulnerable to shocks like COVID-19, conflicts, and the climate crisis, will we be able to ensure the same warnings are not ringing out again in the coming years.”
The Child rights organisation, however, called for collaboration, dialogue, and investment across sectors with local communities to bolster response planning and implementation, as well as the ability to act early and prevent predictable shocks from turning into crises.
The reporter further read, “Save the Children is also calling on world leaders to scale up low-cost interventions to prevent and treat malnutrition: community-based treatment for acute malnutrition, supporting and protecting breastfeeding, and investing in community and primary-level healthcare.”
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