• The agencies have warned that as hunger continues to bite due to factors such as drought, vulnerable children continue to bear the brunt.
• They have called for clear operational roadmaps to prevent, detect and treat child wasting in the 15 countries worst hit by drought, including Kenya.
UN agencies are calling for timely action to protect vulnerable children from food and nutrition crisis.
They include the World Health Organization, Food and Agriculture Organization, UNHCR, UNICEF and World Food Programme.
The agencies have warned that as hunger continues to bite due to factors such as drought, vulnerable children continue to bear the brunt.
They said the crisis is likely to escalate into tragedy unless urgent action is taken.
The agencies have called for clear operational roadmaps to prevent, detect and treat child wasting in the 15 countries worst hit by drought, including Kenya.
The other 14 include Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Madagascar and Yemen.
Key priority areas in prevention and treatment of child wasting have been highlighted as food, health, water and sanitation as well as social protection.
“There are significant disruptions in the global food system, food prices are soaring, and climate-related weather extremes are aggravating food shortages and displacing populations,” the agencies said in a report.
They said food prices have continued to soar making women and children unable to access nutritious diets and essential nutrition.
“Without these, the vicious cycle of undernutrition and infection; each aggravating the other continues to go unchecked with disastrous consequences,” they warn.
The ‘State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report (SOFI, 2022)’ estimates that the 15 affected countries have at least 40 million children under five living in severe food poverty.
Also, 27 million experiencing severe food insecurity and eight million suffering from severe wasting.
Wasting is the most life-threatening form of child undernutrition.
“In settings with limited access to local healthy and affordable diets, food-based interventions should be prioritised to meet the nutritional needs of women and children,” the report says.
The agencies are further calling for introduction of specialised nutritious food products such as lipid-based nutrient supplements and fortified blended foods as part of emergency food assistance and nutrition and social protection interventions.
“The global food crisis is also a health crisis, and a vicious cycle: malnutrition leads to disease and disease leads to malnutrition,” WHO director general Tedros Ghebreyesus says.