COVID-19 induced food shortage threatens children around the world
Millions of children, under the age of five, are at risk of suffering from wasting this year, a condition brought about by a combination of low energy (nutrition) intake and high loss, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic that is having an impact throughout the world.
The new finding by UNICEF highlights, 80 percent of those affected are from sub-Saharan Africa and South Asian countries. The United Nations agency is appealing to donors for USD 2.4 Billion for the effort to help improve nutrition. Wasting, which makes children weak and thin, is a prevalent pandemic in Ethiopia in itself and 47 million children suffered from it around the world last year.
“It’s been seven months since the first COVID-19 cases were reported and it is increasingly clear that the repercussions of the pandemic are causing more harm to children than the disease itself,” UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore said.
“Household poverty and food insecurity rates have increased. Essential nutrition services and supply chains have been disrupted. Food prices have soared. As a result, the quality of children’s diets has gone down and malnutrition rates will go up,” she said.
Unless the world reacts and provides support, the agency is warning that 54 million children will be affected, which is said would be a “level not seen in this millennium.”
Poor diet or insufficient nutrition being the main cause; even before the pandemic, millions of Ethiopians, including children, were suffering from lack of food.
In June of this year, UNICEF and the World Food Program inaugurated a multiyear effort to prevent acute malnutrition. According to UNICEF, WFP launched a three-year partnership in Ethiopia, to support the Government of Ethiopia in preventing acute malnutrition. “Here in Ethiopia, and due to the combined effects of desert locusts, climate change, and the secondary impact of COVID-19, UNICEF and its nutrition partners anticipate that the number of children to be treated for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in 2020 alone will rise by 24 per cent.”