Child Hunger in Horn of Africa Increases

12/4/2010 – In the Horn of Africa, more and more children are suffering from chronic food insecurity, endangering their well-being and putting their lives at risk.

24 million people living in the Horn of Africa (Djibouti, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Somalia) and East Africa (Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda) are now food insecure, dependent on food aid to meet their minimum calorie requirements.  This figure is up 20% from early last year.

The shortfall in food availability has been affected by a combination of environmental and economic factors. Too little rain, drought (and often unpredictable flooding), decreased regional trade flows and the high cost of staple grains have pushed many households over the edge.  They are now reliant on international charity and UN agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP).

Young children and nursing mothers are among the worst-affected populations of the regional food crisis. Since mid-2009, one million more children needed food aid, an increase of about 25%. Without a full range of vitamins and minerals, along with enough calories to sustain bodily functions, children are at a high risk of protein-malnutrition diseases like kwashiorkor and marasmus, as well as physical growth retardation and cognitive underdevelopment, potentially resulting in learning disabilities.

According to the World Bank, it would require a concerted effort of $3.6 billion dollars to feed all the needy children under five years old. Some suggest that food aid is the immediate answer, while others suggest the expansion of vitamin and mineral supplementation programs—whether through tablets or enhanced foods such as peanut butter or crackers with added key nutrients. Many suggest that since so many of the poorest of the poor are rural small-holder farmers (often headed by single mothers), that improving farming output is the best means of reducing both poverty and hunger among the most food insecure.

But in some countries, the challenges to food security are much more convoluted. In Somalia, pirates continue to target ships carrying international food aid bound for Somali shores, making it sometimes impossible to get to those who need it the most. 42% of the population of 3 million in Somalia requires food aid to survive. Food pressures have been agitated by fighting in the capital city of Mogadishu, which has displaced thousands, and by persistent drought.  In essence, Somalia suffers from what humanitarian workers call a “complex emergency” in which the government requires international assistance to solve a problem that involved armed conflict, population displacement and increased mortality.

Short URL:

Posted by on Apr 15 2010 Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

Leave a Reply

Photo Gallery

Log in |2011