More than 6 million children in the Sahel are at risk of acute malnutrition

“With recurrent conflict, insecurity, socioeconomic crises and extreme weather events in the region continuing to worsen and further deteriorating child nutrition, we need to change the way we work to meet their needs in a sustainable way,” said the UNICEF Regional Director for West and West Africa Central Africa, Marie-Pierre Poirier.

These figures, which come from the new publication by the Working Group on Nutrition in West and Central Africa, represent a 27% increase over 2021 estimates and 62% over 2018. This is a record high for the fifth consecutive year.

The number of children under the age of 5 at risk of acute malnutrition worldwide this year has never been higher, reports the task force bringing together United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations including ACF, ALIMA, Concern, PUI, Save the Children, UNICEF, WFP and WHO.

UNICEF aims to tackle the root causes of child malnutrition

With the sharp rise in the number of malnourished children in the region in recent years, the United Nations and its partners underscore the need for urgent action not only to save lives but also to prevent child malnutrition.

The group therefore urges donors and partners to increase their support to meet the immediate nutritional needs of affected children while expanding preventive interventions to address the root causes of child malnutrition.

“It is time to address the root causes of child malnutrition in the region with urgency and determination,” Ms Poirier added, noting an intensification of efforts in the face of “recurrent crises” identified over the past decade.

Sahel: Displaced women prepare food at an informal camp in Bagoundié, Mali.

© OCHA / Michele Cattani

Sahel: Displaced women prepare food at an informal camp in Bagoundié, Mali.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, humanists fear the fallout from the Ukraine conflict

Insecurity and adverse climate events are exacerbating an already fragile and precarious situation and leading to massive population displacements. By the end of 2021, more than 2.5 million people were internally displaced in the central Sahel.

Over the past three years, the sharp increase in armed attacks on communities, schools, health centers and other public facilities and infrastructure has impacted livelihoods and access to social services.

In addition, the Covid-19 pandemic continues to adversely affect household livelihoods as well as systems (nutrition, health, education, social protection).

According to FAO estimates, the crisis in Ukraine could lead to a sustained decline in food exports and increase the number of malnourished people in sub-Saharan Africa.

In addition, data on the prevention of acute malnutrition among children aged 6 to 23 months and pregnant and breastfeeding women through complementary feeding in nine countries in the Region show that resources are also urgently needed to ensure an efficient and rapid response.

Total funding requirements are over $93 million, with a funding gap of $56 million, including $26 million to cover needs during the June through September lean season.

For acute malnutrition treatment, the funding gap is $35.5 million for moderate acute malnutrition. Including Nigeria, that shortfall is US$42 million for severe acute malnutrition, the deadliest form of malnutrition.

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