•More than seven million children below five years in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia remain malnourished and in need of urgent nutrition support
•The agency has further warned that more than 1.9 million children are at risk of dying from severe malnutrition
Unicef has called for investment in sustainable, resilient systems across the region to protect children and communities from future crises.
Unicef in their latest statement said more than seven million children below five years in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia remain malnourished and in need of urgent nutrition support.
The agency has further warned that more than 1.9 million children are at risk of dying from severe malnutrition.
Unicef said that while the rains have brought some reprieve, it has also led to floods due to the inability of the ground to absorb large quantities of water.
This has resulted in further displacement, increased risk of disease, livestock loss and crop damage.
“Over the past three years, communities have been forced to take extreme measures to survive, with millions of children and families leaving their homes out of pure desperation in search of food and water,” Mohamed Fall said.
Fall is the UNICEF Regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa.
“This crisis has deprived children of the essentials of childhood; having enough to eat, a home, safe water, and going to school,” he added.
Unicef estimates that 23 million people are facing high levels of acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.
According to Fall, it will take time for crops and herds to grow again and for families to recover from years of hardship hence the need for continued support.
“The rains have brought some relief and hope, but also new threats, and recovery doesn’t happen overnight,” Fall said.
“With the extreme weather cycles that we see today in the Horn of Africa, the next crisis may hit before children and families have had a chance to recover.”
Unicef has further warned that on top of nutrition needs, extreme weather, insecurity and scarcity have also had devastating consequences for women and children, worsening the risk of gender-based violence (GBV), sexual exploitation and abuse.
Fall called for more funding not just to help children recover from the current crisis, but to help develop more resilient, sustainable systems for children in the region and at the same time withstand future climate impacts and other shocks.