UNICEF: Child Food Poverty at Alarming Levels

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According to the report, 65 percent of the 181 million children worldwide who suffer from child food poverty reside in 20 countries, with some 64 million in South Asia and 59 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

On Thursday, UNICEF warned that inequity, conflict and climate crises are driving child food poverty to alarming levels today, leaving millions of children under the age of five without access to nutritious diets.

A recent report by the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) says food prices and living costs have reached record highs as countries continue to recover from the impacts of the pandemic.

As a result, a quarter of the world’s children are surviving on extremely poor diets, consuming only two or fewer of the major food groups.

“For a child in Afghanistan, for example, that’s just a little bit of bread or maybe milk all day, and almost certainly no vegetables or fruit or good sources of protein,” explained Harriet Torlesse, a UNICEF nutrition specialist and lead author of the analysis.

She described the context as very worrying, warning that these children cannot survive on such poor diets.

Children living in severe food poverty are children living on the brink.

Yet, that’s the reality for millions of young children impacted by conflict, climate change & poverty. It can have a negative impact on their survival, growth & brain development???? https://t.co/xIjL0madRu

— Catherine Russell (@unicefchief) June 6, 2024

According to the report, 65 percent of the 181 million children worldwide who suffer from child food poverty reside in 20 countries, with some 64 million in South Asia and 59 million in sub-Saharan Africa.

Other indices suggest that almost half of all cases are linked to households where income poverty is prominent.

The paper also discusses other factors that exacerbate this crisis, such as food systems that do not provide children with nutritious, safe and accessible choices, or the inability of families to afford nutritious food and to adopt and maintain positive child feeding practices.

UNICEF urged governments to work to make nutritious food more accessible to young children, activate social protection systems to address income poverty and leverage health systems to provide the nutrition services needed to help children.

“We must consider the elimination of child food poverty as a political imperative, particularly to achieve the sustainable development goals related to malnutrition,” Torlesse told the UN news portal.

She also considered it important to strengthen health systems so that they can advise and support families on how to feed their children.

“There is no reason why children should grow up in conditions of child food poverty,” she added, stressing the consequences of this scourge for children’s ability to grow and thrive.

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